A Project of the Coast Guard Aviation Association

1995 The Deepwater Mission and Capability Analysis Report

The Deepwater Mission Analysis was a thorough look at the Coast Guard’s missions conducted beyond the normal operating range of shore based small boats. These missions generally require extended on scene presence, long transit to the operating area, forward deployment of forces, or a combination of these factors. A Mission Analysis Review Board (MAR) examined the Coast Guard’s present and future ability to carry them out.

In the past, acquisitions of major Coast Guard assets had not been based on projected future missions, but in response to the mission at hand, the assumption that present missions would continue and that similar assets would be required. Mission Analysis was initiated to replace this weakness with planning based on the best prediction possible of what the missions of the future would be; what measure of effort would be required; what capabilities assets will require to carry out these missions; and whether the Coast Guard will have the resources it needs for the tasks at hand.

The Mission Analysis Review Board listed and addressed the following primary roles in the report:

  • Drug Interdiction
  • Living Marine Resource Enforcement
  • Alien Migration Interdiction Operations
  • Deepwater Search and Rescue
  • International Ice Patrol
  • National Defense Operations

The Review Board concluded that the Coast Guard’s ability to prosecute these missions effectively fell short in two primary areas: resource capabilities and resource availability.

  • The existing assets did not have all of the capabilities to perform as efficiently as they should. When compared with the functional requirements generated for each primary mission, the capabilities of present assets showed their age.
  • Of greater concern was the undeniable fact that the Coast Guard would not have sufficient assets to meet future employment needs.

The major portion of the availability gap resulted from law enforcement missions. Proposed new program standards, which were more stringent than past measures, were factors which increased law enforcement demand considerably. Computer simulation and past experience in these critical missions indicated that given the right resources these standards were appropriate and achievable. For the most part, these new standards were being met in the high threat areas where most illicit activity was occurring. Low threat areas were not covered nearly as effectively, if at all.

The resource availability gap grew alarmingly when the ends of service life of aging ships and aircraft were factored in. It was determined that the majority of the Deepwater surface and aviation assets would reach this point by 2015. It was further determined that as these assets were retired from service, the resource availability would decrease dramatically while demand continued to increase, thus exacerbating the shortfall.

Analysis showed the cutters and aircraft to be barely adequate to perform the Deepwater missions in the mid 90s, and when the ships and aircraft began to reach the ends of their service lives in coming years, the resource gap would become overwhelming. The 378’ High Endurance cutters and the 210’ Medium Endurance cutters, whose serviceability had been extended through the Fleet Renovation and Modernization program, were scheduled to reach the beginning of the end of their service lives at the turn of the century. The latest ships built, the 270’ Famous Class cutters, face the end of service life beginning in 2012. The aircraft faced similar problems. Three HC-130 long-range aircraft were scheduled to reach the end of their scheduled service lives in 1997; 1998 for the five 1500 series airframes; and 2003 for the twenty-two 1700 series airframes. The HU-25 Falcon jets reached their end of scheduled service life in 2003, and the HH-65 short range helicopters in 2004. 

The Review Board determined that if nothing was done:

  • Initially the Coast Guard would merely experience seemingly insignificant decreases in mission effectiveness.
  • Failure to exploit new technologies would cause it to fall farther behind and would deny potential economies in crewing and asset availability.
  • In the future as Coast Guard assets became obsolete it would reach a point where major responsibilities would have to be abdicated. The impact would begin to manifest itself in the inability to conduct proactive missions fully in high threat areas, and would slowly escalate to an inability to provide sufficient resources to reactive missions such as Search and Rescue, response to environmental disasters, and response to mass migration attempts.
  • The Coast Guard would lose the flexibility and speed of response that has become the hallmark of the organization.

The conclusion was no one else is available to fill this void and carry out these national priorities. The Coast Guard must retain the vital capabilities required to carry out its functions, and the effort should begin now.

As a result a mission need statement documenting the continuing need for cutters and aircraft and their supporting command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems was developed and approved in August 1996. In October 1997, then RADM Thomas Collins led a group of 11 senior personnel who made up the Deepwater Capability Replacement Analysis Review Team.  The purpose of the team was to review acquisition strategy and organizational arrangement and staffing of the Deepwater project.

Rather than replacing the required cutters, patrol boats and aircraft through a series of individual replacement programs, it was decided to pursue a mission based procurement program under which a combination of new and modernized cutters, patrol boats, aircraft and their associated C4ISR systems and logistic support, would be procured as a single integrated package. (LSI)

Based on the recommendation of the “Collins Report,” a two phase program was adopted. Phase I Conceptual Design, began in August of 1998 and continued throughout 1999. The Coast Guard awarded contracts to three industry teams headed by Lockheed Martin, Litton Avondale Industries, and Applications International Corporation. During this phase the industry teams were asked to conceive and engineer their proposed integrated system concepts to approximately 50 percent of the completed design. The Coast Guard had the option of continuing any or all of the participating teams into the Functional Design phase during which the team or teams selected would continue to evolve and refine the Deepwater concepts. Phase II was the proposal review followed by the awarding of the contract.

In 2007, as the Coast Guard’s management and execution of the Deepwater program was being strongly criticized, the system-of-systems approach was significantly altered to a collection of individual, defined-based acquisition programs with the Coast Guard assuming the lead role as systems integrator for each.

Mission Study Statements Pertaining to Aviation in the Program Report

Aviation assets are invaluable due to their speed and ability to cover large areas quickly. Fixed wing aircraft (C-130 and HU-25) routinely conduct surveillance for all Deepwater missions, often employing advanced radar or infrared systems to enhance their detection and classification ranges. The C-130 Hercules has a large cargo capacity which allows it to fly critical logistics support for deployed operations. The HU-25 Falcon aircraft, because of its speed, serves as an air intercept in deterring air drug smuggling, and its infrared systems serve well in detecting and determining the limits of marine pollution. Our helicopters fly short and medium range surveillance, and are capable of operating independently, forward deploying to remote locations, or deploying onboard WMECs and WHECs to extend cutter capabilities. Aircraft of all classes provide our quickest response to SAR cases and can drop or lower survival equipment to those in distress, while helicopters often utilize their lift capability to rescue survivors when necessary. Most of our current Deepwater resources are reaching their end of useful service.

The Present Era