Coast Guard Announces New Fast Response Cutters to be Homeported in Alaska
April 30, 2018
The decision comes following consistent pressure by the Alaska Congressional delegation to ensure new Alaska Coast Guard assets be “homeported where they can be most responsive to the needs of Alaskans and the nation.” According to the U.S. Coast Guard, recapitalizing will begin in 2023 and no assets will be decommissioned prior to the arrival of new assets. will homeport six Fast Response Cutters (FRC) in Alaskan communities, which will enhance the Coast Guard’s coastal capability to perform search and rescue operations, protect our fisheries, and improve resiliency to disasters throughout Alaskan waters.
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) received letters dated April 25th from the Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Zukunft making the announcement.
These new larger cutters are a significant upgrade from Alaska's current fleet of 110 ft. patrol boats. They bring the newest and most advanced systems, and a new, larger platform with more endurance to our coastal waters. In addition, the Coast Guard will homeport a Coastal Patrol Boat in Petersburg and one in Juneau.
“The importance of the Coast Guard to Alaska and our entire nation cannot be understated. From rescue missions to protecting our vital fisheries, to monitoring our vast waters, these men and women work daily to ensure the safety and security of Alaskan waters. It is critical for us to provide these important upgrades to our aging current fleet, allowing the Coast Guard to better serve Alaska and protect our arctic borders,” Senator Murkowski said. “It is imperative that we have the most capable assets available and that we have them strategically located. Where we place our assets in order for them to be responsive is crucial not only from a national security perspective, but for fisheries enforcement and search and rescue missions as well.”
“Thank you for your consistent support of the Coast Guard and recognition of the services we provide in Alaska,” Admiral Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard wrote. “I ask for your continued support as we work with the Administration and Congress to request funding, and for the support of city officials as we mutually prepare for the arrival of the patrol boats. The Coast Guard values its relationship with each Alaskans community and I appreciate your support as we continue to serve the citizens and maritime community of Alaska.”
In the FY18 government budget, the U.S. Coast Guard received $340 million to fund six FRCs, which are in various phases of the construction process, to replace the aging 110 ft. patrol boats. As a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murkowski strongly advocated for Fast Response Cutter funding and that they be spread throughout as many communities as possible. The vessels are larger than the 110 ft. patrol boats they will be replacing, meaning they also require larger and stronger docks with adequate amenities, maintenance support units and will be manned by bigger crews. Investment will be needed for the shore-side infrastructure to support the vessels, crews and their families. Also included in the FY18 government budget, $51.5 million to fund Coast Guard housing and shore-side infrastructure projects that will support current and future Coast Guard assets in Alaska, such as these FRCs.
U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) also welcomed the U.S. Coast Guard’s announcement on the future homeporting of six total Fast Response Cutters (FRC) slated for Alaska.
“The Coast Guard is undergoing a major recapitalization of its fleet and I’ve consistently worked to ensure this means more Coast Guard ships, aircraft, and personnel for communities across our state. As the Coast Guard Subcommittee Chairman, I continue to work to ensure we have the broadest possible search and rescue coverage, response capability, and maritime domain awareness throughout Alaskan waters,” said Senator Sullivan.
Sullivan said, “The effort to stop a potential drawdown of Alaska-based Coast Guard assets led to numerous and sometimes tense discussions. In the end, persistence and tireless advocacy – tied to a well-timed confirmation hearing of the next U.S. Coast Guard Commandant – led to this announcement. I’m pleased to see the Coast Guard has heard our message loud and clear and followed a 2-1-1-2 homeporting model for the FRCs and will deploy two additional Patrol Boats into Alaska, a decision which ensures larger mission area coverage. I’m proud to have worked with many mayors in coastal communities to ensure the Coast Guard made the appropriate investments to increase geographic coverage and ensure we can more effectively monitor our waterways and coastlines. This announcement gives many of our Southeast communities the long-term certainty they’ve been asking for and brings significant investments – in infrastructure and local housing – to our coastal communities. And frankly, we’re not done pushing the Coast Guard during their recapitalization process. In fact, we’re just beginning.”
“The Coast Guard has completed an exhaustive feasibility study regarding the Alaskan patrol boat force laydown that included outreach to communities throughout coastal Alaska. Based on our study, the Coast Guard will homeport two FRCs in Kodiak, one FRC in Seward, and one FRC in Sitka in addition to the two FRCs currently homeported in Ketchikan,” wrote Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul F. Zukunft. “Additionally, our analysis indicated that the people of Southeast Alaska would best be served by two additional patrol boats. The Coast Guard will homeport a Coastal Patrol Boat in Petersburg and one in Juneau. This force laydown equates to 150% of the capacity provided by the Island Class patrol boats.”
This month, in a Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on the nomination of Vice Admiral Karl Schultz to be the next Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Senator Sullivan asked for and secured certain verbal commitments, including the 2-1-1-2 homeporting model of Alaska’s FRCs and a replacement vessel for Petersburg’s decommissioning 110 foot Island Class Patrol boat.
Senator Murkowski is a member on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and supported the FY18 government funding bill.
Senator Sullivan is Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.
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Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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