In 2002, the Coast Guard began a multiyear, $19 billion to $24 billion acquisition program to replace or modernize its fleet of deepwater aircraft and cutters, so called because they are capable of operating many miles off the coast. For several years now, the Coast Guard has been warning that the existing fleet--especially cutters--was failing at an unsustainable rate, and it began studying options for replacing or modernizing the fleet more rapidly. Faster replacement is designed to avoid some of the costs that might be involved in keeping aging assets running for longer periods. This testimony, which is based both on current and past GAO work, addresses several issues related to these considerations: (1) changes in the condition of deepwater legacy assets during fiscal years 2000 through 2004; (2) actions the Coast Guard has taken to maintain and upgrade deepwater legacy assets; and (3) management challenges the Coast Guard faces in acquiring new assets, especially if a more aggressive schedule is adopted.
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