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Coast Guard delays cutter over radios
Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen several times referred to the Acushnet while defending his service’s $10 billion budget request in for 2009, which includes $1 billion for the Deepwater program.
Adm. Allen said he needed “every dollar” in the request in order to revamp the fleet.
The Bertholf was originally expected to cost about $300 million, but fixes to structural flaws bumped that to more than $500 million.
Hurricane Katrina heavily damaged the Pascagoula shipyard during Bertholf’s construction and delayed completion by several months.
Bertholf’s latest problems have their roots in the class of 123-foot cutters, all prematurely retired last year after many of the boats experienced cracked and buckled hulls.
The boats had just completed a $100 million improvement program led by Northrop Grumman, which was intended to be one of Deepwater’s first milestones.
Nearly a year ago, Adm. Allen said he was downgrading the status of Deepwater lead contractors Lockheed Martin and Northrop, ending their roles integrating the various Deepwater systems.
Instead, Adm. Allen said, the Coast Guard would hire additional acquisitions experts to oversee integration.
Last fall, Anthony D’Armiento, a Coast Guard civilian employee, leaked documents pertaining to ongoing problems with Bertholf’s communications gear.
Mr. D’Armiento was placed on paid leave after several publications reported on the communications problems. He was the latest in a long line of Deepwater whistleblowers.
In 2006, Michael DeKort, a former Lockheed Martin employee, posted a homemade testimonial to the video-sharing Web site YouTube, in which he accused Lockheed of cutting corners on the radios — shortcuts that later undermined Bertholf’s design.
Last week, Adm. Allen appeared before a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee to defend the program before skeptical lawmakers.
“We want to make sure that all the assets the Coast Guard is seeking to have a proper amount of oversight and attention,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, Washington Democrat.
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