(From a USCG Press Release)
FACT SHEET: Fast Response Cutter-B
Planned as the smallest of three major classes of Coast Guard cutters, the Fast Response Cutter will be able to deploy independently to conduct the services missions, such as ports, waterways and coastal security, fishery patrols, drug and illegal migrant law enforcement, search and rescue, and national-defense operations. Advancing the design and construction of this new patrol boat is one of the Coast Guards top near-term priorities. The $24-billion, 25-year post-9/11 Deepwater Implementation Plan calls for 58 FRC A and B class end-state assets. The FRC will be built to deliver all required capabilities to the Coast Guard in a way that will enhance the safety and well-being of its crew and allow the Coast Guard to execute its assigned missions more effectively, efficiently, and safely.
The Deepwater Program temporarily suspended design work February 2006 on the FRC-A due to technical risk. Because of the Coast Guards urgent need for patrol boats, the Coast Guard then began work on a dual path approach that includes an interim strategy to acquire a B-class vessel until technical risks with the A-class design can be mitigated. A parent craft acquisition strategy was chosen for the B-class also sometimes called the Replacement Patrol Boat to be based on an in-service, proven patrol boat design. The Coast Guard issued a Request for Information in April 2006 as part of the B-class strategy to obtain information on available, proven patrol boat designs that could potentially meet the requirements for the FRC-B Replacement Patrol Boat. Based on review of 27 designs submitted by 19 firms under this RFI, the Coast Guard determined that the existing patrol boat market could meet top level FRC-B requirements with minimal design modifications.
In order to acquire an FRC-B as expeditiously as possible, the Coast Guard issued a Request for Proposal for the design of the cutter to Integrated Coast Guard Systems in November 2006. ICGS issued a Broad Industry Announcement and RFP for the design of the FRC-B. The ICGS RFP period closed January 31, 2007. Coast Guard leadership also subsequently announced the service would ask ICGS to hold a competition for production of the chosen design.
Interim briefings on the progress of the design proposal, as well as projection by ICGS that the additional requirement to compete production of the FRC-B would add up to a year to its delivery schedule, led Coast Guard leadership to consider alternate methods of acquiring the patrol boats.
Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard, signed a decision memorandum March 14, 2007, approving the Deepwater program executive officers recommendation to terminate the current FRC-B acquisition with ICGS and reassign the acquisition to the Coast Guards Acquisition Directorate. The goal of this action is to ensure full and open competition, meet basic mission requirements/desired performance characteristics, control costs and deliver a patrol boat in the shortest time possible to reduce the Coast Guards patrol boat gap.
This action is based on the Coast Guards ongoing commitment to improving program management to achieve best value for taxpayers and the government. Analysis by the Coast Guard indicates an organic Coast Guard acquisition of the FRC-B is likely to produce a high-performing patrol boat at less cost and in less time than pursuing the acquisition through ICGS. The Acquisition Directorates strategy to use a parent craft design based on a proven, in-service patrol boat will reduce technical risk and design development time. In addition, design and production efforts will be combined into one competitive RFP, thus saving time over separate design and production RFPs. The Coast Guard expects to issue the RFP for the design and production of the FRC-B in May 2007, with the first of 12 boats scheduled for delivery in Spring 2010.
FRC-B RFP Requirements Include:
Length: 120 ft. 160 ft.
Flank Speed: 28 knots min.
Independent Operations: 5 days min.
Seakeeping: At a minimum conduct all missions through SS4 and survive through SS6
C4ISR: Interoperable with CG, DHS, DOD, RESCUE 21.
Armament: 25mm remote operated weapon system, .50-caliber machine guns
Crew Size: 20 Enlisted and 2 Officers
Small Boat Launch/recovery: Performed safely with no more than 3 personnel
The above release move comes nearly one month after revelations of mismanagement hit the press , throwing the $24 billion Deepwater programs future into grave doubt.
Critics say the post-9/11 cash influx has pushed the Coast Guard into unfamiliar waters and overwhelmed the services program managers and acquisition system. After years of flying under the radar, its new high-profile Homeland Security role means more prying eyes into the Coast Guards management of the Deepwater project - which is intended to revamp almost the entire inventory of ships and small craft and more urgency that it is done correctly, and on time.