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LATEST UPDATES

The Coast Guard awarded Birdon America, Inc. of Denver, on Oct. 5, 2022, an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity firm fixed price contract with economic price adjustments for the detail design and construction of its river buoy and inland construction tenders.


The Coast Guard released a request for information (RFI) on Oct. 8, 2021, to inform its training support solutions for the waterways commerce cutters (WCCs).


The Coast Guard released a RFI Sept. 29, 2021, to gather information about state-of-the-market and current industrial capabilities to support cutter boats for the WCC.

 

Waterways Commerce Cutter

Notional vendor rendering of two Waterways Commerce Cutter variants: an Inland Construction Tender (left) and River Buoy Tender (right). The Inland Buoy Tender variant will be acquired separately. Image courtesy of Birdon America, Inc.


The Coast Guard’s current inland tender fleet consists of 35 tenders that support the Service’s aids to navigation (ATON) mission in federal inland waterways. These tenders play a vital role in directing the traffic of the Nation’s Marine Transportation System (MTS) and support the U.S. economy by facilitating the efficient flow of goods nationwide. The inland fleet is responsible for maintaining more than 28,200 marine aids throughout 12,000 miles of inland waterways, through which 630 million tons of cargo move annually.

The inland tenders can also perform missions such as search and rescue; ports, waterways and coastal security; marine safety; and marine environmental protection, enabling them to quickly and effectively respond to emergencies such as environmental incidents and severe weather events.

Why this program?

The MTS accounts for more than $5.4 trillion annually in U.S. economic activity, and inland ports and waterways are critical MTS components. The inland tender fleet possesses the unique capability to establish and maintain inland ATON to support the safe and efficient flow of economic activity along U.S. rivers, lakes, intracoastal waterways, and harbors. However, the current fleet of inland tenders has been in operation for an average of more than 57 years. The fleet is approaching obsolescence: its maintenance costs are rising, and the vast majority of the inland tenders do not support mixed-gender berthing. To address these concerns, the Coast Guard is taking steps to ensure continuity of its inland maritime mission capability.

How does the Coast Guard perform the inland ATON mission?

The current inland tender fleet can be divided into three main tender types, each of which performs specific parts of the ATON mission:

River Buoy Tending Operations WLR Commissioned
1960-62
1964-70
1990-91
WLRs service short-range ATON on the Western Rivers. They set, relocate, and recover buoys to mark the navigable channel as the water level in the rivers changes. They also establish and maintain fixed aids, lights and daybeacons within their areas of responsibility.
Inland Construction Operations WLIC Commissioned
1944
1962-65
1976
WLICs construct, repair, and maintain fixed ATON within inland waterways. The WLIC is the only Coast Guard platform with the capability to drive and remove piles, erect towers, and effect major structural repairs.
Inland Buoy Tending Operations WLI Commissioned
1945
1954
1963
WLIs service short-range ATON along the coastal and inland waterways. These vessels maintain buoys that are beyond the capabilities of the nearest aids to navigation team and that are located in areas either too shallow or otherwise too restricted for larger tenders to reach. One WLI each is located in North Carolina, Michigan, Oregon and Alaska.

How is the Coast Guard working to sustain and update its inland ATON capability?

From top: Coast Guard notional renderings of an Inland Buoy Tender, Inland Construction Tender, and River Buoy Tender.


The Coast Guard established the Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) Program to replace the capability provided by the inland tender fleet. The program partnered with the Naval Sea Systems Command to conduct an independent alternatives analysis to evaluate materiel and non-materiel solutions to meet mission needs within cost and schedule constraints. Additionally, the WCC Program released 11 requests for information to conduct market research and conducted engineering trade studies and design analysis, including development of indicative designs.

Based on this analysis, the program determined that three WCC variants will best meet mission needs. All three variants will be monohull ships, meaning self-propelled cutters instead of tug and barge configurations. The River Buoy Tender and Inland Construction Tender variants will be acquired on one contract; these variants will maximize commonality with notable exceptions for hull length, working deck layout, and deck equipment, including the crane.

The Inland Buoy Tender will be acquired separately from the other two variants. In June 2021, the WCC Program began partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Marine Design Center, which has experience with similar acquisitions, to develop a Government-led design for the Inland Buoy Tender variant. The Inland Buoy Tender will be contractor-built.

The Coast Guard plans to acquire 16 River Buoy Tenders, 11 Inland Construction Tenders and three Inland Buoy Tenders. The new tenders will have greater endurance, speed, and deck load capacity than their predecessors. The ships will also feature improved habitability and will accommodate mixed-gender crews.

 

The WCCs primarily service aids to navigation in federal inland waterways, but they can also perform missions such as search and rescue; ports, waterways and coastal security; marine safety; and marine environmental protection.

There are three WCC variants, one per mission set: River Buoy Tenders (WLRs), Inland Construction Tenders (WLICs), and Inland Buoy Tenders (WLIs). The Coast Guard is acquiring the WLRs and WLICs on one contract, and the WLIs will be procured via a separate contracting action.

Characteristics:

  • Number Planned: 16 WLR; 11 WLIC; 3 WLI
  • Length (maximum): 180 ft. (WLR); 160 ft. (WLIC); 120 ft. (WLI)
  • Beam (maximum): 35 ft.
  • End-of-Service-Life Full-Load Draft: 5 ft. 6 in.
  • Speed (minimum, open water): 11 knots
  • Endurance (minimum): 11 days (WLR/WLIC), 7 days (WLI)
  • Crew (threshold): 17 (WLR/WLIC); 14 (WLI)

Features:

  • WLR: Capability to place in the water and lift out of the water (while underway); self-load from a pier; and secure on the working deck a buoy up to the size and weight of a Coast Guard 4NR buoy, with its associated mooring and navigation signal equipment.
  • WLIC: Capability to self-load from a pier, place in the water, lift out of the water and secure on the working deck a 60-foot pile and its associated navigation signal equipment, while spudded down.
  • WLI: Capability to place in the water, lift out of the water, self-load from a pier, and secure on the working deck a buoy, up to the size and weight of a Coast Guard 1992-type 6x20 LR buoy, with its associated mooring and navigation signal equipment, while underway.
  • Standardized small ATON cutter boat (WLR: two boats each; WLIC and WLI: one boat each).

RFI 1, February 2018: Gather information about the state of the market and current industrial capabilities to support the Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) acquisition program.
SAM.gov

RFI 2, June 2018: Gather additional information about state of the market items currently in production or in use along the inland waterways that can be used as potential solutions for the WCC acquisition program. In addition, obtain an understanding of domestic shipyards’ capabilities and experience in designing and building assets that may meet the WCC requirements.
SAM.gov

RFI 3, October 2018: Gather information about the state of the market and current industrial capabilities to support various ship-mounted, marine cranes for the WCC program.
SAM.gov

Special Notice, November 2018: Announce the WCC program’s exhibition at WorkBoat to provide industry information about program mission needs, status, and desired schedule, and learn about industry’s production capacity and product capabilities.
SAM.gov

RFI 4, February 2019: Gather information about the state of the market and current industrial capabilities to support pile-driving systems for the WCC program.
SAM.gov

RFI 5, June 2019: Gather additional information regarding ship-mounted, marine cranes for the WCC program.
SAM.gov

RFI 6, September 2019: Gauge industry interest, capability and capacity to design and build the WCCs.
SAM.gov

RFI 7, September 2019: Gather information regarding the analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation of crew training and performance support solutions. [Reference ID RFQ1396764]
https://www.ebuy.gsa.gov/ebuy/

Special Notice, November 2019: Announce that the acquisition of the river buoy and inland construction variants will be a small-business set-aside.
SAM.gov

RFI 8, January 2020: Gather information regarding the ability of commercial vessels to meet inland buoy tender requirements, either as found in an existing design or with minor modifications.
SAM.gov

RFI 9, Draft Request for Proposal (RFP) – River Buoy/Inland Construction Tenders, July 2020: Provide and gather feedback on the draft statement of work, specifications, data requirements, proposal evaluation criteria, guidelines for submitting proposals, and other information industry will need to prepare their proposals for the river buoy and inland construction tender acquisition.

Special Notice, February 2021: Announce updates to the draft specification based on industry feedback received and additional internal analysis performed since July 2020.
SAM.gov

RFP – River Buoy/Inland Construction Tenders, April 2021: Solicit proposals for the design and construction of its new river buoy and inland construction tenders.
SAM.gov

RFI 10, October 2021: Gather additional information regarding the analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation of crew training and performance support solutions
SAM.gov

RFI 11, November 2021: Gather information about the state of the market and current industrial capabilities to support cutter boats for the Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) program.
SAM.gov

WCC: In the News

2022

Oct. 5, 2022 - Coast Guard awards river buoy, inland construction tender detail design and construction contract

2021

Oct. 18, 2021 - Coast Guard releases WCC training solution capabilities request for information

Oct. 5, 2021 - Coast Guard releases request for information for boats to support waterways commerce cutters

May 17, 2021 - Coast Guard holds virtual environmental impact information sessions

May 3, 2021 - Coast Guard releases river buoy, inland construction tender request for proposal

Feb. 16, 2021 - Coast Guard updates river buoy, inland construction tender draft specifications

Jan. 15, 2021 - Coast Guard releases cutter videos, announces waterways commerce cutter webinar

2020

July 29, 2020 - Coast Guard releases draft request for proposal for river buoy and inland construction tenders

Jan. 10, 2020 - Coast Guard releases request for information for prospective inland buoy tenders

2019

Nov. 21, 2019 - Coast Guard announces small business set-aside to replace river buoy and inland construction tender capabilities

Nov. 7, 2019 - Coast Guard releases inland buoy tender top-level requirements

Oct. 16, 2019 - Coast Guard releases draft waterways commerce cutter specifications, plans industry engagement

Sept. 18, 2019 - Coast Guard releases request for information to inform WCC training solutions

Sept. 6, 2019 - Coast Guard releases request for information to inform acquisition strategy

Feb. 15, 2019 - Coast Guard seeks information to support Waterways Commerce Cutter Program

2018

Oct. 22, 2018 - Coast Guard seeks information to support Waterways Commerce Cutter Program

June 12, 2018 - Coast Guard Releases request for information for waterways commerce cutter capability

Feb. 15, 2018 - Coast Guard releases request for information for inland maritime aids to navigation capability

2017

Nov. 27, 2017 - Coast Guard examines options for inland aids to navigation capability replacement