Page 18: of Marine News Magazine (June 2021)

Combat & Patrol Craft

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Waterways Commerce Cutter

For that sort of work, the new inland cutters, which will the New Madrid fault, which stretches roughly from the be expected to provide up to 11 days of accommodations river bottoms of Memphis, Tenn. to Paducah, Ky., has a and habitability for around 17 to 19 crew members, might 25 to 40% chance of generating a magnitude 6 or greater be perfect assets for situations where on-the-spot, command earthquake over the next ? fty years. and control assets are needed for a period of time. To that All of these disasters require—or would require—sub- end, cutter endurance is a highly rated evaluation factor, stantial waterway navigation aid recovery work. But the and a means to improve cutter endurance in a pinch might cutters, already optimally positioned throughout the in- be an interesting differentiator for responding shipyards. land waterway system, will still need to get to where they

It might also be worthwhile for innovative shipyards to are needed. It may well be why the Coast Guard has em- consider how the new tenders might support other State, phasized mobility, highlighting both speed and draft as

Local and Department of Homeland Security components important performance requirements. in an emergency, and, potentially, integrate with the Coast Finally, the future inland tender ? eet will be serving

Guard’s hazardous materials experts at the National Strike during a period of substantial technological change. As a

Team, commandos in the Maritime Security Response decidedly “low-tech” platform, the Coast Guard is shying

Team or other special Coast Guard assets. The Coast away from high-tech baubles and wants bidders to offer

Guard already indicates the platforms should have strong only robust, solid-state gear. But that does not mean ship- multi-agency communications capabilities, and there are builders should forgo thinking about the future. other features out there that a crafty builder could propose The vast potential for unmanned platforms is already ob- to gain an edge on the competition. vious, and, since buoys are, for the most part, unmanned

Floods, storms and natural disasters are all areas where platforms that simply lack engines, these tenders may have a refreshed inland cutter ? eet can shine. Category 4 Hur- a real future in bringing unmanned craft to America’s in- ricane Laura forced the Coast Guard to repair or replace land waterways. Some guesses as to how those platforms- 80 navigation aids, but it also created toxic dangers as well. of-the-future may integrate with the future waterways com-

During the hurricane response, twenty of thirty-one spill merce cutter ? eet may be an interesting way for the Coast response requests to the National Response Center were Guard to keep the Waterways Commerce Cutter ? eet rele- detailed to the USCG for action. Disasters can be seasonal vant in the future, blending exciting new technologies with or unique. Annual spring ? oods are a chronic challenge, the tough, old-school task of keeping America’s waterways and, on the other hand, government experts believe that open and American commerce going unvexed to the sea.

Coast Guard illustrations showing indicative (i.e., notional) designs for the WLR (top), WLIC (middle) and WLI (bottom).

18 | MN June 2021

U.S. Coast Guard

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