Coast Guard: Status of Deepwater Fast Response Cutter Design Efforts

GAO-06-764 Published: Jun 23, 2006. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 2006.
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The Coast Guard has been pursing a replacement vessel for its aging and deteriorating patrol boats as part of the Integrated Deepwater System (or Deepwater) acquisition. Originally, all 49 of the Coast Guard's 110-foot patrol boats were to be converted into 123-foot patrol boats as a bridging strategy until a replacement vessel, the 140-foot Fast Response Cutter (FRC) came on line beginning in 2018. The initial conversions of the 110-foot patrol boats proved unsuccessful, though, and this prompted the Coast Guard to cancel further patrol boat conversions and accelerate the design and delivery of the FRC from 2018 to 2007. Early design efforts called for the FRC's hull, decks, and bulkheads to be made from composite materials rather than steel. Recently, design problems with the FRC's hull shape and weight have raised questions about the viability of the FRC design and use of composite materials. This report examines (1) the factors that went into the decision to use composite materials for the FRC hull, (2) the types of composite materials that have been selected for the FRC hull, (3) the extent of contingency plans developed for use if the prototype hull fails to meet Coast Guard performance requirements, and (4) the status of design efforts for the FRC.

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