Larsen Calls for Answers on Deepwater Problems</A

Jan 30, 2007

 

Washington, D.C. - Today, in a House Transportation and Infrastructure Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee hearing on the Coast Guard Integrated Deepwater System (Deepwater), U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) called for answers on how the Coast Guard is going to fix procurement and oversight problems with the Deepwater program. In a report released on Monday, the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security concluded that the Coast Guard's newest cutter -- a key part of the Deepwater program -- suffers from serious design flaws, and that the Coast Guard has failed to provide sufficient oversight over Deepwater program contractors.

“To many, the Deepwater program seems to be in deep water,” said Larsen. “While this program has had some significant successes, problems with procurement, contract management and oversight have led to cost over-runs and major structural deficiencies in maritime assets and therefore warrant attention.”

The Deepwater program was developed to replace many of the Coast Guard’s operational assets (aircraft and cutters), some of which are over 60 years old. The program aims to replace or modernize approximately 90 ships and 200 aircraft used in deepwater missions, including drug interdiction operations, search and rescue, homeland security, and fisheries law enforcement.

Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen, president of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Phillip Teel and Leo Mackay, president of Integrated Coast Guard Systems testified before the subcommittee today.

“The Deepwater program is our country’s first line of defense to securing our shores,” Larsen continued. “For the sake of taxpayers, we must get to the bottom of these troubles.”

Larsen has served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee since he was first elected to Congress in 2000. This is the first Congress he will serve on the Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee.

Larsen’s full statement to the Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee follows.

Representative Rick Larsen Opening Statement
Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee Hearing
Oversight of the Coast Guard Integrated Deepwater System
January 30, 2007

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

“As part of the Deepwater Program, three U.S. Coast Guard H-65 helicopters located in the Pacific Northwest have undergone successful engine overhauls. Five more in the Pacific Northwest will undergo the same overhaul. One of these helicopters participated in a successful rescue on the Olympic Peninsula that would not have been possible without the Deepwater investment.

“Unfortunately, these kinds of success stories in the Deepwater program seem to be too few and far between. Problems with procurement, contract management and oversight have lead to cost over-runs, major structural deficiencies in maritime assets, and therefore warrant attention.

“To many, the Deepwater program seems to be, well, in deepwater.

“For the sake of taxpayers, we must get to the bottom of these troubles.  The Deepwater program is our country’s first line of defense to securing our shores.  I hope to get out of this hearing today an understanding of how the Coast Guard intends to fix the problems with Deepwater.  Our intent is to ask the tough questions and get candid answers.

“I have serious concerns over the ballooning price tag of implementing Deepwater and expect answers as to how the Coast Guard plans to control costs.  I also expect an answer as to why the first two of eight National Security Cutters were built after the Coast Guard’s chief engineer found the structural design to have significant flaws.

“As a new member of this subcommittee, I look forward to taking a closer look at Deepwater and how to fix its problems.  We in Congress owe it to those who elected us to ensure their money is being spent wisely and that this important program is implemented effectively.

“I look forward to our witness’ testimony.

“Thank you.”

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