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Question: Secretary Slater has recently transferred administration of Great Lakes Pilotage back from the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation to the Coast Guard. Which office in the Coast Guard is going to have responsibility for this program?

Answer: The Great Lakes Pilotage has been placed under the Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety and Environmental Protection (G-M), based on the recommendations of the transition team which determined the most appropriate location within the Coast Guard's streamlined organization based on resources and functions.


Question: Last year Congress appropriated $2 million for the Coast Guard to study replacement options for the MACKINAW. When will the concept exploration process be completed, as well as any recommendations on which option should be implemented? What options are currently being considered, and what are the cost estimates for these options.

Answer: Formal Concept Exploration is completed when the Transportation System Acquisition Review Council (TSARC) approves an alternative, projected for August 1998. This timeline reflects an aggressive schedule to complete all of the analyses and prepare required documentation in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget Circular A-109 process for major acquisitions.

An interim status report was submitted to Congress in June 1998 describing which options are being considered. Cost estimates for the options will be available when concept exploration is completed in August 1998.


Question: Given sufficient funding and Congressional support, what is the earliest reasonable date that the Coast Guard could acquire a new icebreaker for the Great Lakes?

Answer: Fiscal year 2000 funding would provide a delivery date of 4th quarter fiscal year 2004.


Question: Toward the end of last year's Great Lakes shipping season, the Coast Guard removed the BRAMBLE, one of its buoy tenders from the Great Lakes region, leaving the remaining buoy tenders with additional year-end responsibilities. On two separate occasions during this extremely busy season, the Coast Guard pulled floating aids-to-navigation with little prior notice to mariners (as short as 24 hours in advance) and more alarmingly, with no consultation with industry. This resulted in unacceptable delays in moving vessels in the region. What steps have you taken to ensure that this situation does not repeat itself in the future?

Answer: While Coast Guard Cutter BRAMBLE's deployment did leave the remaining five Great Lakes buoy tenders with additional responsibilities, lack of buoy tender capacity was not a contributing factor to user complaints. The primary contributing factor was a key communications breakdown. Information on the buoy servicing schedule was to be published in the Local Notice to Mariners (LNM), a publication that reaches the vast majority of mariners. An administrative error resulted in the schedule not being published until very shortly before the buoy work was to begin.

Representatives from Coast Guard's Ninth District met with a variety of stakeholders at an industry "Maritime Day" after this occurrence. Working in partnership with them, internal procedures for providing vital information to the publisher of the LNM have been reviewed and streamlined. Also, a Ninth Coast Guard District waterways management web page has been created on the Internet, and a fax distribution list has been created for dissemination of information to key waterways user groups.


Question: Based on traditional methods of cost allocation for reimbursable expenses by other Federal agencies, what is the cost of operating our polar class icebreakers? How much of these costs are reimbursed by other Federal agencies? How will the introduction of the HEALY in fiscal year 1999 affect these numbers? Does the Coast Guard need additional legal authority to be reimbursed for their costs by these other Federal agencies at a level that reflects the cost of your providing these services to these agencies?

Answer: The direct cost attributed to the polar icebreaking mission, averaged over the last three years, is approximately $19.6 million per year. Reimbursable costs for these years have averaged $2.5 million. The introduction of HEALY, if funded for the full utilization target of 200 days per year, would add $4.0 million to the reimbursable amount while adding $15.3 million to the Polar Icebreaking Program cost.

Additional legislative authority would be required to charge Federal agencies for the full cost of providing these services. The Arctic Research and Policy Act and the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Convention Act currently authorize collection of incremental costs only. The Administration is preparing a legislative proposal that would require the scientific community, or any non-DOD user, to fund the full cost of operating the polar vessels (including all direct and indirect costs).

The polar class icebreakers are responsible for other missions in addition to logistical support for the scientific community, including support of Department of Defense facilities, Search and Rescue, Marine Environmental Protection, enforcement of International Treaties, and response to any national contingencies in the polar regions.

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