Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The United States Coast Guard: A Third World Navy (barely)

It's easy to see the little picture. It is often more difficult to see the big picture. From today's McPaper:
The Coast Guard's ships, planes and helicopters are breaking down at record rates, which may threaten the service's ability to carry out its post-9/11 mission of protecting ports and waterways against terrorism.
Meanwhile, the President wants to slow down the Coast Guard's plan to replace the "deepwater" fleet, adding at least 5 years to the acquisition of new vessels and aircraft.

Try this on for size:
While the average age of the Navy's frigates, destroyers and other "surface combatants" is 15.2 years, and the average age of its supply and refueling ships is 20.5 years, the Coast Guard uses ships nearly twice as old, according to the Government Accountability Office. The average age of the Coast Guard's 14 210-foot cutters is 37.3 years, and the average age of its dozen 378-foot cutters is 35.3 years.
Ouch.
Stephen Flynn, a maritime security expert and former Coast Guard officer, says the agency is "operating at the level, in many instances, of a Third World navy."
The Coast Guard's vessels are even older than the naval powers of Algeria and Pakistan!

Now, here's the even worse news: The stories in the press don't even touch on our shore infrastructure, which is in worse shape. Tell me we're not headed for a calamity of grand proportions.

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