« PrécédentContinuer »
Senator BARTLETT. This is true, but it is likewise true, is it not, that the smaller the figure presented to the Appropriations Committee, the less likelihood there is that you will come out with even that?
Mr. DEAN. We understand that, yes.
Senator BARTLETT. I guess that is perhaps why the House committee acted as it did.
What happened to the nuclear icebreaker program?
Mr. DEAN. I think it would be well for the Commandant to go into greater detail on this, but within the Department's councils, it was felt that at this stage the Polar Mission and the subsequent design features of the icebreaker had not reached a sufficient point of definition to go in this year for an additional icebreaker.
The Commandant can go into detail on the reasons that underpin that conclusion, which is one the Coast Guard shares with the Secretary.
Senator BARTLETT. Did the $117 million include any money for this program?
Mr. DEAN. No; at no stage in this fiscal year's deliberations, did we have an icebreaker.
Senator BARTLETT. I have no further questions. Mr. DEAN. Excuse me. Let me correct the record on that, Mr. Chairman.
The initial $117 million did have the icebreaker. It disappeared at a very early stage, but it was in the initial submission.
Senator BARTLETT. Thank you very much.
Go in peace, and we hope when you return next year, you will be asking for far, far more money for an authorization. Mr. DEAN. We share that hope, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF ADM. WILLARD J. SMITH, COMMANDANT, U.S.
COAST GUARD, ACCOMPANIED BY ADM. PAUL E. TRIMBLE,
Admiral SMITH. Mr. Chairman, I have a rather lengthy statement, but I have a brief of the statement which will save us a little time, if you prefer, and I could enter the full statement in the record.
Senator BARTLETT. I informed you informally before the hearing started that some high priority business will make it necessary to recess or adjourn this hearing at 11:30. But that is over an hour away. .
Why don't you start out with the longer statement, and then we will see how the time situation is.
Admiral SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I welcome this opportunity to discuss our capital improvement program with you. This is my first appearance before you under the sponsorship of the Department of Transportation.
The Coast Guard has enjoyed a very active and challenging first year in the new Department. Under the aggressive leadership of Sec
retary Boyd and his staff, we have been encouraged in our efforts to develop initiatives in the fields of maritime safety and the marine sciences while still performing our historical statutory duties. In addition, we are continuing to support the U.S. effort in the Vietnam conflict. Let me briefly discuss some of these activities with you.
Since I last appeared before this committee, the Navy has requested and we have provided five high-endurance cutters for deployment with Operation Market Time to interdict the sea supply routes of the Vietcong off the coast of Vietnam. You will recall we previously furnished 26 patrol craft along with explosive loading teams and an electronic long-range aids to navigation system. It now appears that these requirements will continue for the duration of the conflict requiring the rotation of five major vessels approximately every 8 months. This deployment has placed a heavy operating load on our remaining high endurance cutter fleet, increasing the annual days. away from homeport by about 18 percent. With the addition of this. squadron to the Navy forces operating off the coast of Vietnam, we now have over 1,350 personnel in the Southeast Asia theater. Again our military preparedness capability is highlighted and continues our long tradition of prompt response in contingency situations.
We had hoped to appear before you this year with our initial recommendations for replacement of our icebreakers. However, as we examine the U.S. position in the polar regions in greater depth, recognizing that we are building vessels for specialized operation beyond the year 2,000, we find that identifying the many requirements and their precise natures is a most complex task.
Previously we had hoped that the icebreaker design work could follow closely the cataloging of requirements, but both efforts have slowed in view of the complexity of the requirements problem. This is under further study by a Coast Guard task group now and something more definitive will be available by next year. In fact, the Department, assisted by us, just held a long range polar objectives conference with other government agencies and interested groups to examine the economic and scientific requirements for transportation in the polar regions. In the meantime, a design expertise has been developed for expeditious application to the various vessel requirements now being identified.
The major shift in our program emphasis this past year occurred in the area of marine science. We have for years allocated some of the operational employment of our facilities to the collection of oceanographic data, but for the most part this has been of a fairly routine and limited nature. In addition to oceanographic data collected by all of our ocean station vessels, the Coast Guard currently operates three vessels whose primary mission is oceanography, and we have again included one replacement oceanographic vessel in this authorization request.
Last year a national data buoy systems study contract under Coast Guard management was completed which indicated the feasibility of collecting oceanographic and meteorological data by buoys from ocean areas and along our coast. I have established a project staff to direct the recommended research and development of hardware and support facilities required to implement this system. I feel the Coast Guard is uniquely qualified to manage such a system as it develops by virtue of our long experience with similar hardware in the aids-to-navigation field.
We have also conducted preliminary studies into several other areas of marine science and marine safety, including but not limited to: (1) the Coast Guard's role in inspection, certification, and search and rescue for nonmilitary submersibles which are increasing in number, (2) a continental shelf maritime safety program, (3) a national plan for navigation for standardized devel 5pment of nationwide electronic aids, (4) a revision of the national search-and-rescue plan, (5) the control and abatement of water pollution by oil and chemicals, and (6) new approaches in the field of recreational boating safety. Each of these areas of intensified development is in the national interest and will subsequently require the addition of improved facilities in the Coast Guard inventory and specially trained personnel to operate them.
This year's request provides authorization for projects totaling $107 million, which is approximately the same total requested last year. This means that we have held our capital request to an absolute minimum consistent with the President's policy to limit programs to most urgently needed requirements. In order to keep within the funding limitations and continue modest expansion in several areas where growth and workload continue to increase, we must necessarily stretch out our replacement plans for coverage facilities.
The vessel request before you amounts to $38,904,000 and includes some new construction, a small amount for increasing capability of existing vessels and some funding to extend the service life of vegjel which must be operated somewhat longer than previously scheduled. Thus we can continue to carry out currently planned programs and functions while living with the stretched-out replacement program.
Only one-378-foot high-endurance cutter is included in our authorization request again this year. This will provide 11 of these vessels since the replacement program commenced in 1962. While not moving quite as well as we had hoped, we have been able to meet all of our commitments involving high endurance cutters including the increased operational employment cited as the result of the deployments to Southeast Asia. We have been able to do this through the unceasing efforts of our dedicated operating personnel and the resourcefulness of our engineering and other support personnel although operating margins reserved for unforeseen casualties are slender indeed.
Reports thus far indicate that the USCGC Hamilton, the first of the 378-foot class cutters, is a very fine ship highly capable of carrying out her planned missions. In fact, she and the USCGC Dallas have now joined our operational fleet. Two others of this class, USCGC Mellon and USCĞC Chase, have also been delivered and are undergoing preliminary shakedown training and operations preparatory to joining the Coast Guard fleet.
As I noted earlier, we are again requesting authority to construct an oceanographic cutter. It will replace the existing 180-foot buoy tender which has been modified for limited oceanographic work and now supports international ice patrol research. This committee recognized the need for such it vessel last year and authorized its construction. The Appropriations Committee disallowed the use of
funds for that purpose, directing instead the construction of an additional high endurance cutter.
We now have a greater need than before for an oceanographic vessel to conduct multidiscipline oceanographic research from fringe ice to the tropics in support of projects approved in the national oceanographic program. The National Council of Marine Resources and Engineering Development also supports our request for a modern oceanographic cutter, knowing of the Nation's needs for many such vessels. Additionally, the President reaffirmed his interest in the field of marine science in his state of the Union message when he said:
This year, I shall propose that we launch, with other nations, an exploration of the ocean depths to tap its wealth, and its energy, and its abundance.
As a result of a buoy tender utilization study we recently com pleted, it was determined that a modern buoy tender and a buoy boat suitable for aids to navigation work in the Norfolk, Va.--Chesapeake Bay, Maryland area could do the work previously accomplished by two 30-year-old tenders. Accordingly, we are requesting authorization for one new coastal buoy tender which will have a crew of 35 men as compared to the total of 56 men aboard the two tenders being replaced.
In order to avoid new construction or costly renovation we plan to acquire a diesel electric ferryboat, used but in very good condition, to replace a smaller 38-year-old steam-powered ferryboat which provides vehicle and passenger transportation between Governors Island and lower Manhattan Island. The ferryboat will be purchased from the city of New York, and will give us three vessels with the same type propulsion which affords ease and economy of maintenance and operation.
Under new construction we are requesting one river tender and barge for use on the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, La. and Natchez, Miss. A small manned depot at Greenville and an unmanned mooring at Natchez are also required to enable us to complete the assumption of lower Mississippi River buoy maintenance.
To increase the capability of existing vessels, we plan to procure and install larger auxiliary generators on five seagoing buoy tenders. Since these vessels operate continually in warm climates, air conditioning for living spaces will be installed at the same time. In another project, rehabilitation of living spaces will be carried out on two coastal tenders.
Continuing a project that the committee approved in each of the past 2 years, we are requesting authority for installation of three more balloon tracking radar equipments on high endurance cutters. You will recall that the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Department of Defense now require meteorological data up to 100,000 feet, and this can only be obtained by the use of these installations on our ocean station vessels.
The need to extend the service life of the existing polar icebreakers has been touched upon. I will not dwell on it longer, except to call attention to our request for additional funding to complete this rehabilitation program begun several years back since it will be some time before replacement of icebreakers is accomplished. . We are also requesting completion of the program to rehabilitate the old 327-foot high-endurance cutters. This committee authorized accomplishment of this program for all six cutters of this class last year, but it was subsequently found necessary to reallocate a portion of the funds to make up the requirements for the fiscal year 1968 378-foot high-endurance cutter construction project.
As noted earlier, the Appropriations Committee directed construction of one additional high-endurance cutter instead of the less costly oceanographic cutter but did not provide the additional necessary funding. Incidentally, the funds for this cutter have been placed in reserve for the rest of this year to assist in holding down costs and expenditures in the current tight fiscal situation, and also to give us the option of requesting bids for more than one cutter at the same time in fiscal year 1969 if that approach appears likely to result in the lowest overall cost to the Government.
The aviation plan review, begun prior to entering the Department of Transportation, has been essentially completed. Although additional questions were thereby raised, and these are currently under further study, the authorization request reflects approval of the first year's plan under the study. In consequence we are requesting nine more medium-range twin-turbine (HH-3F) helicopters for $14,636,000 to replace the aging medium-range search aircraft (HU-16E). As a result of this year's acquisitions, there will still be 32 of these old aircraft remaining in our inventory.
SHORE PLANT I would now like to turn to the needs of the shore plant. Authorization amounting to $47,660,000 in fiscal year 1969 is requested to satisfy the most urgent of these needs ranging from repair and replacement of aging facilities to construction of new operational and support units; provisions for family housing through our construction and leased housing programs; installation of navigation aids; financial support of alterations to bridges obstructing navigation, and support of the national efforts in oceanography.
Authorization is requested for substantial modernization and replacement at five of our small multipurpose stations. These projects are at Siuslaw River, Florence, Oreg.; Hobucken, N.C.; Grays Harbor, Vestport, Wash.; Port Aransas, Tex.; and Eatons Neck, N.Y. In two other locations, Point Allerton, Hull, Mass., and Bayfield, Wis., complete stations are being rebuilt at new sites where they can be more responsive to their missions.
We are requesting construction of a single building complex to adequately house the required barracks-BOQ, galley/mess, and recreation facilities at our air station in Mobile, Ala. Existing spaces are unsatisfactory for these purposes and inadequate to support the planned increase of personnel which will result from the establishment of the icebreaker-helicopter detachment at this station.
This request also includes authorization for establishment and construction of new permanent multipurpose stations at Cape Charles City, Va.; Annapolis, Md.; Fort Totten, N.Y.; and New Haven, Conn. The Annapolis station will replace a houseboat unit that has served the area since 1963. The new stations at Fort Totten and New Haven along with the coustruction at Eastons Neck station are a coordinated development primarily for meeting the search, rescue,