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WPB-123' Patrol Boat

Part of the Deepwater plan proposed by ICGS was to lengthen the existing 110 foot patrol boats by 13 feet, which they thought would improve the sea-keeping properties of the vessel; allow a deployable boat to be launched over the stern rather than over the side, and provide for updated electronic and communications systems to be installed. The patrol boats were 15 years old - and they had a planned useful life of 15 years. 123-foot Island-class Patrol Boats are a modification of the 110' Island Class patrol boat and being phased into service as part of the Deepwater project. These cutters are equipped with advanced electronics, communications equipment and navigation systems. The 123' Patrol Boats were designed to have an adaptable mission module and a maximum range of 3,300 nautical miles. ICGS hired Bollinger Shipyard in Louisiana to do the work. Bollinger built the patrol boats originally.

One of the first visible modernization efforts of the Deepwater Program is the conversion of the 110' Island Class patrol boats to the 123' patrol boats. The modification and modernization will upgrade, physically renovate and extend the hull life of the 110' cutters. The lead subcontractor for this work is a joint venture formed by Bollinger Shipyards of Lockport, LA and VT Halter Marine of Gulfport, MS. The renovation will provide an improved asset within the legacy fleet.

This patrol boat renovation will extend the length 13 feet for an overall length of 123 feet with a maximum beam of 21 feet and a full load draft of seven feet. The hull will be refurbished with shell plate and structural replacement.

There will be an installation of a stern boat launch ramp to accommodate the new 7-meter Short Range Prosecutor (SRP) enhancing small boat launch and recovery utilizing less crew. VT Halter Marine Inc. will build a new superstructure and pilothouse. The renovated pilothouse will include a 360-degree bridge for increased visibility and a large increase in available deck space.

The renovation will update crew habitability. The 8-person aft berthing space will be converted to an electronics space and workspace. Additional berthing will be provided on the main deck with three 2-person staterooms to allow the patrol boat to be dual gender capable. The 2-man CPO stateroom will be converted to a 3-man stateroom. Guest berthing can be accomodated in the CO and XO staterooms.A ship's office with be added with a triage station located on the main deck. The galley and mess deck equipment will be renovated. A new tow bitt and tow rail will be installed in conjunction with the new stern configuration.

There will be upgrades to the C4ISR suite to provide for increased capabilities in communications, detection and prosecution. These upgrades include three separate LAN systems (unclassified administrative, classified command and control, machinery control and monitoring), an integrated Communications Systems, and a command and control system with an integrated radar display enabling visualization of a common operational picture.

System enhancements will include: a new steering and hydraulic system; new larger rudders with mechanical seals; drip-less mechanical seals on fin stabilizers; installed washer and dryer; an Engineer watchstanding console in the re-configured aft workspace; a secure communications in the aft workspace; and increased fresh water storage (B & C-class).

Integrated Coast Guard Systems partnership delivered the United States Coast Guard Cutter Matagorda (WPB 1303), to the Coast Guard during an 05 March 2004 ceremony at Bollinger Shipyards' Lockport, La., facility. The Matagorda and the recapitalized assets of the Deepwater Program will be central to the success of the Coast Guard of today and the future as we proudly live our mission of safeguarding sovereignty, security and safety of America.

The Matagorda is a 123-foot Island Class Patrol Boat, the first of 49 Island Class 110-foot patrol boats to be refurbished in the $17 billion Coast Guard modernization program, known as Deepwater. The Matagorda's operational capabilities were upgraded as part of a 15-year service-life extension program. A new, 11-ton, 13-foot stern ramp and larger pilot house were fitted, about 900 square feet of the hull plating was replaced, berthing space was relocated for improved habitability, new propellers and larger rudders were installed, and a new mast was fabricated and installed. Additionally, a modern and robust Command, Control, Communications and Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) system was installed.

The work was performed by HBJV, a joint venture of Bollinger Shipyards LLC and VT Halter Marine, Inc of Gulfport, Miss. HBJV is a sub-contractor to Northrop Grumman Ships Systems, a partner in ICGS, a joint venture of Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. In June 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded the Deepwater contract to ICGS.

Shortly after the first patrol boat was delivered, they discovered cracks in the hull. Other patrol boats were in the process of being extended. In 2005 the Coast Guard ordered ICGS to stop the extension and modernization program on the 110 foot patrol boats -- at that point 8 patrol boats had been extended. ICGS and the Coast Guard tried to fix some of the engineering problems with the 8 boats so they could be used. After the repairs were made, the Coast Guard put them in restricted service - limiting the area and sea-state in which they could operate.

During IPT meetings, at all levels, a consistent message was coming from the Coast Guard Systems (G-S) representatives; who were concerned about the stern ramp, how the SRP and 123 would act as a unit in the same sea way, and the overall structural integrity of the 110 hull girder. Even with the strongest objections at each and every contract review step, the PEO, Integrated Deepwater System Commandant (G-D) Program Manager [PM] concurred with his Assistant Program Manager [APM] decision each and every time. A last plea for caution was proposed; build only one 123 WPB as a full scale prototype and test the hull structure and the SRP interface with the stern ramp. If the design appeared sound after a prescribed test and evaluation period, the subsequent DTO's could be released to restart the 110 modification line. This was also dismissed due to overriding schedule and cost priorities. With all options seemingly lost, in December 2002, G-S sent a memo to G-D indicating that because of our overall engineering concerns with the 123 WPB, no additional G-S controlled maintenance monies would be directed to MATAGORDA after the cutter's departure.

In March 2006 the 2006 American Society Of Naval Engineers (Asne) Perry Award was presented to Mr Scott C. Sampson, MLCA (VS), who was recognized for his outstanding achievements and contributions to the coast guard naval engineering program during 2005. Mr. Sampsons superior technical competence earned him designation as the Maintenance and Logistics Command Atlantic's authority for 110 and 123 patrol boat structural issues. As the primary MLCA naval architect, Mrr. Sampson displayed expert technical skills and meticulous organizational abilities, as well as effective use of team resources, while conducting comprehensive bow-to stern assessments of 110 patrol boats. Working with the engineering logistics center and Deepwater program managers and engineers, he coordinated critical testing and analysis for resolution of complex 123 patrol boat structural integrity issues.

On November 30, 2006, the Coast Guard announced that it was suspending operations of all eight 123' cutters due to the continuing deformation of the hulls that in some instances resulted in hull breaches - they were too dangerous to operate for their normal duties. These problems had previously resulted in the implementation of operating restrictions that severely undermined the mission effectiveness of 123' cutter fleet. However, these operating restrictions did not resolve the hull deformation problem but rather mitigated their impact on crew safety. Consequently, the Coast Guard had to consider whether to implement additional operational restrictions in order to meet minimum crew safety requirements or to suspend 123' cutter operations until a solution to these problems could be identified and implemented. The Coast Guard determined that additional operating limitations would have further undermined the operational effectiveness of the 123' cutter. For these reasons, 123' cutter fleet were withdrawn from service.

The Coast Guard and ICGS had not identified the cause of the problem or why their computer models did not predict the problems that are occurring. Basically, the stern of the boat is flexing. This drives the propeller shaft down at the point where it meets the engine. They have lowered the engine and transmission as low as possible - but it is no longer possible to keep it in alignment as the boat flexes. The Coast Guard is not going to have ICGS do any more work on these 8 boats. However, they may have Coast Guard engineers try to develop a proposal for alterations that would address the problems.

Rather than leveraging Bollinger’s expertise in construction based on a parent craft, the 123 foot conversion was a complex retrofit to an existing hull already at the end of its expected service life. Regarding that project’s contracting approach; Bollinger was a second tier sub-contractor to the Deepwater prime contractor, Integrated Coast Guard Systems. The Coast Guard’s contract oversight relied heavily on industry self-certification, which compounded the effects of the limited involvement of the original ship designer.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit 17 August 2011 alleging that Bollinger had falsified data to win the contract to modify its original Island Class cutters, elongating them to create the new Sentinel Class. Eight of the boats were deemed unseaworthy. The United States filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, against Bollinger Shipyards Inc., Bollinger Shipyards Lockport LLC and Halter Bollinger Joint Venture LLC. The suit alleges that Bollinger, which is headquartered in Lockport, La., made material false statements to the Coast Guard under the Deepwater Program.

The government’s complaint alleges that Bollinger proposed to convert existing 110-Ft Patrol Boats (WPBs) into 123-Ft WPBs by extending the hulls 13 feet and making additional improvements. As a result of Bollinger’s misrepresentations about the hull strength of the converted vessels, the Coast Guard awarded a contract to convert eight Coast Guard 110 foot cutters to 123 foot cutters. The first converted cutter, the Matagorda, suffered hull failure when put into service. An investigation by the Coast Guard and the prime contractor, Integrated Coast Guard Systems, concluded that the calculation of hull strength reported by Bollinger to the Coast Guard prior to the conversion was false. Efforts to repair the Matagorda and the other converted vessels were unsuccessful. The cutters are unseaworthy and have been taken out of service.

“Companies which make false statements to win Coast Guard contracts do a disservice to the men and women securing our borders,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “We will take action against those who undermine the integrity of the public contracting process by providing substandard equipment to our armed services personnel.”

The government’s suit seeks damages from Bollinger under the False Claims Act for the loss of the eight now unseaworthy vessels. The investigation of the case was conducted by the Department of Justice Civil Division, the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General and the Coast Guard.

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Page last modified: 08-04-2012 13:24:12 ZULU