Zukunft Lauds Largest Acquisition Budget in Coast Guard History
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft delivered the 2016 State of the Coast Guard Address at U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium on Tuesday praising the Barack Obama’s budget.
The budget is the largest acquisition budget in Coast Guard history, he said. “This will allow us to shore up our aging infrastructure and invest in our capital fleet and most importantly our offshore patrol cutter – the largest and most critical acquisition in Coast Guard history dating back to our fledgling fleet of 10 revenue cutters back in 1790
“And there’s more. The president’s budget for 2017 prepares the way to recapitalize our nation’s diminishing fleet of heavy icebreakers.”
Strategy is driving budget like never before, said Zukunft, referencing the Coast Guard’s Arctic Strategy.
He said that Polar Star’s recent voyaging in Antarctic waters caused him great discomfort. “The U.S. has no insurance policy, no self-rescue capability whatsoever should Polar Star and her nearly 40-year-old engineering plant suffer a casualty and become beset in ice.”
Again voicing his support for the budget, he said: “I can’t be more grateful for our president’s ardent support and his call for heavy icebreakers to ensure the U.S. maritime year-round access to the strategic polar regions. Importantly, the president’s budget includes funding to accelerate acquisition of new heavy icebreakers, and with the support of congress, I am moving out to recapitalize our nation’s heavy icebreaking capability.”
This was Zukunft’s second State of the Coast Guard Address and he welcomed the opportunity to recognize Service accomplishments, reinforce his strategic intent and provide direction for the coming year.
"Now, on behalf of the 88,000 women and men of the Coast Guard, I profoundly thank the 114th Congress and this Administration for delivering an authorization bill along with the largest acquisition budget in Coast Guard history,” he said.
The commandant’s speech focused on how the budget will support his priorities to invest in the 21st century Coast Guard, sustain mission excellence, and maximize value to the nation.
The Western Hemisphere Strategy was a topic of the strategic conversation. The Commandant affirmed that in Fiscal Year 2015, Coast Guard assets interdicted or disrupted more than 190 metric tons of cocaine and detained more than 700 suspected drug smugglers detained for prosecution.
“When I met recently with the President of Honduras, he noted a 23 percent decrease in violent crime in his country – a result he attributes to whole of government drug interdiction,” said Zukunft. “The increased budget allows me to invest in our capital fleet and intelligence programs so that we can continue to reestablish rule of law and stability in our own hemisphere.”
The Commandant also highlighted the recently released Human Capital Strategy.
“For all the investments we are making in our capital plant – if they are not matched with a commensurate investment in our people – those aircraft, cutters, rescue boats and the skill sets required to operate them will become hollow,” said Zukunft. “Which is why our Human Capital Strategy and retaining our most vital asset – our people – is the bedrock of the State of the Coast Guard.”
The Commandant closed by saying that he is very optimistic in today’s state of the Coast Guard and that “these are truly the Finest Hours to serve in the United States Coast Guard.”