The Coast Guard released a request for information (RFI) June 12, 2018, to gather additional information about potential solutions for the waterways commerce cutter acquisition program. The RFI is available here.
Waterways Commerce Cutter
The Coast Guard’s inland tender fleet comprises three main cutter types. Shown clockwise from left are an inland construction tender, a river buoy tender and an inland buoy tender.
The Coast Guard’s current inland tender fleet consists of 35 ships 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 and support the U.S. economy by enabling the efficient flow of goods nationwide. The fleet is responsible for maintaining more than 28,200 marine aids throughout 12,000 miles of inland waterways, which move 630 million tons of cargo 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.
The Marine Transportation System (MTS) accounts for more than $4.6 trillion in U.S. economic activity, and inland ports and waterways are critical to the MTS’ success. 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 inland tenders have been in operation for an average of more than 53 years, so the Coast Guard is examining options to ensure continuity of its inland maritime mission capability and address obsolescence concerns.
The Coast Guard established the Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) Program to replace the capability provided by the inland tender fleet. The program recently partnered with the Naval Sea Systems Command to conduct an independent alternatives analysis to determine viable solutions to meet its mission needs within cost and schedule constraints. This analysis will include the possibility of renewing and standardizing its inland maritime mission capability with modern, state-of-the-market tenders equipped with proven technology to conduct missions in the Western Rivers, Intracoastal Waterway, and other inland and coastal waters of the United States. The WCC Program has released three requests for information – one each in February 2018, June 2018 and October 2018 – to conduct market research and invite industry to comment on creative, effective and affordable solutions.
The WCC Program is working under a heavily accelerated program schedule to reach initial operational capability by fiscal year 2024 and full operational capability by fiscal year 2030.
The current inland tender fleet can be divided into three main tender types, each of which performs specific parts of the ATON mission:
Current Inland Fleet Distribution
River Buoy Operations
Inland Construction Operations
Inland Buoy Operations
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
Nov. 27, 2017 - Coast Guard Examines Options For Inland Aids To Navigation Capability Replacement