Dec 12, 2006, 6:35 AM
Post #1 of 1
Wow, that article in the NY Times about the Coasties' boat problems dragging down their ability to pursue their mission is sure dissappointing:
Coast Guard's New Boats Unsafe?...after billion$?
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Four years after the Coast Guard began an effort to replace nearly its entire fleet of ships, planes and helicopters, the modernization program heralded as a model of government innovation is foundering. The initial venture - converting rusting 110-foot patrol boats, the workhorses of the Coast Guard, into more versatile 123-foot cutters - has been canceled after hull cracks and engine failures made the first eight boats unseaworthy.
Plans to build a new class of 147-foot ships with an innovative hull have been halted after the design was found to be flawed. And the first completed new ship - a $564 million behemoth christened last month - has structural weaknesses that some Coast Guard engineers believe may threaten its safety and limit its life span, unless costly repairs are made.
The problems have helped swell the costs of the fleet-building program to a projected $24 billion, from $17 billion, and delayed the arrival of any new ships or aircraft. That has compromised the Coast Guardís ability to fulfill its mission, which greatly expanded after the 2001 attacks to include guarding the nationís shores against terrorists. The service has been forced to cut back on patrols and, at times, ignore tips from other federal agencies about drug smugglers. The difficulties will only grow more acute in the next few years as old boats fail and replacements are not ready. -- by Eric Lipton, New York Time, full story: