This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Q & A ADM. ROBERT J. PAPP, USCG


Guard Academy in New London, Conn. During his 36-year career, he has commanded four cut- ters. As a flag officer, he commanded the Atlantic Area and served as chief of staff and command- ing officer at Coast Guard headquarters and as Ninth District commander with operational responsibility for the Great Lakes and northern border. • The following interview with Contrib- uting Editor Tom Philpott has been edited for length and, in some cases, clarity.


Every military service has tough budget challenges. Are the Coast Guard’s even deeper than the other armed forces? It’s more a magnitude of scale. In the 1990s, when the country was trying to reap a defense dividend and spend that money on other things, the Coast Guard already had been underfunded for years. Our ships were aging. We reduced our active force by 6,000, which is a lot when you start with 42,000. We faced the threat of decom- missioning more ships.


Sept. 11, 2001, changed all that.


Money started flowing for this proj- ect we had to recapitalize our fleet called Deepwater. We would build ships, patrol boats, aircraft, and C4SRI (command, control, communication, computer, surveillance, reconnais- sance, and information) equipment to carry out our missions.


But Deepwater proved to be a very troubled project. Part of the reason we had prob- lems was, when forced to cut 6,000 people, we cut second-tier support including acquisition and budget ex- perts. So we didn’t have the compe- tency in service to take on a project of the magnitude of Deepwater. We


54 MILITARY OFFICER FE B R UARY 2012


asked industry to be the lead sys- tems integrator. And it fell apart. A few years ago, we started


reconstructing our acquisition program, building up our compe- tencies. ... Today, we have a very strong acquisition force.


What progress have they made? The National Security Cutter (NSC) is the flagship of our recapitalization plan. It will replace our high-endur- ance cutters and carry out missions at sea for the next 50 years. This last year, our acquisition professionals not only awarded a fixed-price con- tract for NSC 4 but also a contract for NSC 5, only $2 million higher. Given the rise in steel prices, that’s unbelievable. All we need is a steady funding stream to build out a total of eight ships. Three have been deliv- ered. I’m asking for money for NSC 6 in the 2013 budget, for NSC 7 in the ’14 budget, and for NSC 8 in the ’15 budget. If we get that, we’ll have all eight built by [FY] 2018.


You refer to an alarming number of patrol days lost because of ship breakdowns. What’s the condition of your fleet of cutters? We had 12 Hamilton-class high-


endurance cutters and were getting only seven ship-years of use because of breakdowns. We decommissioned two in 2011. Where do we take the shortfall? In Alaskan fisheries patrol or Western Pacific drift-net en- forcement, in drug enforcement or migrant interdiction? My area and district commanders confront those choices daily. We also have an artificially im- posed cut to our finite resources be- cause our ships are so unreliable, and the cost to make them more reliable is astronomical. We have obsolete equipment and engines so long out of general production that parts need to be handmade. Three years ago, when I was Atlan-


tic Area commander, I had a high-en- durance cutter, Gallatin [WHEC-721], off the coast of Colombia. Those ships have four engines — two gas turbines and two diesels — and three electrical generators. On the day I called on the commanding officer, they were down to one diesel for propulsion and one generator for electrical power. They literally had to turn off refrigerators and other systems to have power to launch a boat. I ordered the ship back to port. We shut them down for close to two years for repairs. After Gallatin, we looked at Dallas


[WHEC-716], which shared its home- port of Charleston [S.C.]. Dallas was in even worse structural condition. She had just returned from deployment with the Navy in the Mediterranean and Black Sea and had done phenom- enally. But it was at a cost. It’s not just engineering challenges


we face. These cutters were designed in the ’60s when we didn’t put much consideration into crew comfort. Crews are still in 40-person berthing areas, stacked three high. The age of ships makes them smelly, cold, and uncomfortable. We ought not to treat young patriot volunteers that way.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104