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140-Foot Icebreaking Tug Service Life Extension Program Nears Completion


Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay, a 140-foot icebreaking tug based in Bayonne, New Jersey, transited the upper New York Harbor near the Statue of Liberty on the first day of the ice breaking season, Dec. 17, 2018. The Coast Guard is replacing and upgrading major systems on board the service’s Bay-class cutters, which will extend the cutters’ service life by 15 years. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael White.

Crews at the Coast Guard Yard have reached the homestretch of their efforts to complete service life extension projects (SLEP) on the service’s 140-foot icebreaking tugs. All nine of the Bay-class tugs have undergone or are undergoing the work, including the last – Biscayne Bay – which will finish in third quarter of fiscal year 2020.

The SLEP includes upgrades to each tug’s propulsion and electrical systems, replacement of the boat davit, bubbler system, various habitability improvements, and installation of a standard bridge configuration. In addition to system replacements and upgrades, where appropriate the Coast Guard Yard completes standard maintenance items throughout the vessels, achieving cost and schedule efficiencies over conducting this work after the SLEP availabilities. The program was able to incorporate additional work items, including overhauls of the propulsion generators, identified after the first few SLEP availabilities.

As each cutter underwent work at the Coast Guard Yard, each vessel’s cutter boat received an overhaul and upgrades at the Surface Forces Logistics Center-Small Boat Product Line.

This work will enable the cutters, commissioned 1979-1988, to maintain current capabilities for an additional 15 years beyond competition of their respective SLEP work.

Cutter operators are “very satisfied with the habitability, bubbler, bridge equipment, boat davit, and hull/underwater body and superstructure painting,” according to Thomas Hummer, assistant program manager of the In Service Vessel Sustainment Program for the 140-foot icebreaking tug SLEP. He confirmed that the operators’ constructive feedback was incorporated into the process and “improvements were made based on that feedback.”

“Crews are especially pleased with the relocation of the bubbler unit to the engine room, eliminating the need to install and remove the bubbler van to the fan tail while keeping the equipment protected inside the hull of the ship,” noted Hummer.

The work of the program has been marked by strong teamwork, continuous improvement, and the team continues to build upon the success that earned the program recognition as the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of Homeland Security Level 3 Acquisition Program of the Year.

For more information: In-Service Vessel Sustainment program page