The U.S. Coast Guard’s “number one priority is the offshore patrol cutter,” the service’s commandant told the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Thursday, reports U.S. Naval Institute.
The service will be looking again at its force-mix analysis, taking into account the money appropriated for a ninth national security cutter for this fiscal year, Adm. Paul Zukunft said.
He said he had “the utmost confidence” the Coast Guard will down-select to one shipbuilder this year for the offshore patrol cutter.
The budget request for Fiscal Year 2017 includes $100 million for long-lead procurement for the offshore patrol cutter program.
A service fact sheet said the 25 offshore patrol cutters and 58 fast response cutters will replace 90 cutters now in the fleet.
Zukunft said that the Coast Guard is in “very emotional discussions” with the shipbuilder over the contracts for the last of the fast response cutters.
“We need to come to closure on this” in the next few months to clear the way for the construction of the offshore patrol cutters. He warned earlier in the hearing any delay in the offshore patrol cutter could affect the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out future missions.