WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Joe Lieberman (D-CT) today sent a letter to the Senate Budget Committee urging the committee to provide additional funding to the U.S. Coast Guard to modernize its fleet. The Governmental Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over the new Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Coast Guard.
“Our nation’s ports and waterways remain dangerously vulnerable to attack,” the senators wrote in their March 12 letter. “We understand the difficulties you face preparing a budget during these challenging economic times but believe that modernizing the Coast Guard fleet must be a top priority.”
On Tuesday, the Coast Guard reported to Congress that accelerating its fleet modernization through the Deepwater program would allow the Coast Guard to deliver a more robust homeland security presence and capability more quickly.
Tuesday’s report, required by the Homeland Security Act, calls for the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Commandant of the Coast Guard to submit a report to Congress analyzing the costs and benefits of speeding up plans to modernize the service’s fleet of ships and aircraft. The report documents two alarming trends: a downward trend in the readiness of the Coast Guard’s aging fleet and an upward trend in maintenance costs. Accelerating the acquisition program would cost an additional $4 billion over the current five-year capital investment plan, but according to the report, it would save an estimated $4 billion in future costs. The report is posted on the committee’s Internet site at: www.govt-aff.senate.gov.