It takes resources to run everything from a small town department to a large agency and consistently broken equipment eats up even more of an organization's valuable budget. The U.S. Coast Guard is finding that its operational capacity is in decline due to a legacy fleet that is in poor condition.
The aging fleets that make up a main component of the Coast Guard are costing millions to repair and countless hours. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the legacy fleet, which is made up of high- and medium-endurance cutters and patrol boats have been unable to get into the shop for necessary maintenance because of the large number of backed-up equipment problems.
Fierce Homeland Security reports that the fleet is in disrepair and if this trend continues, the patrol boats and cutters will deteriorate beyond feasible repair.
According to a report by the GAO, the 378-foot high endurance cutters only managed to remain without a major repair about 44 percent of the time from 2005 to 2011. The ships in the legacy fleet were only able to work 180,202 operational hours during 2011 – 23 percent less than the 222,740 that was required by the Coast Guard.
Examinations of the fleet have found that 17 of the 44 patrol boats need complete refurbishing or general replacement because of disrepair or obsolete, maintenance-intensive equipment.
All of these problems with the fleet have led to a back up in training ordinances, according to the GAO. The cost-pressures building up in relation to the status and maintenance of the primary Coast Guard fleet is making scheduling and performing regular training difficult. Because part of the fleet is always stuck under repairs, any patrol or cutter that is available is typically being manned performing regular work and cannot be taken out of the field for training purposes.
These scheduling conflicts mean that even the most dedicated leader is put under pressure to find available boats for training and that drills are conducted whenever a vessel is free. The Coast Guard is a highly necessary component of our homeland defense. Without training, the safety of our service men and women, as well as the public, are impacted. With such severe resource constraints training commanders need the right tools at their disposal to manage the complex logistics of scheduling training.
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