Posted on July 5, 2022
Two Maryland senators are making another pass at funding the restoration of the Coast Guard Yard, a little-known public shipyard that provides ship repair to midsize government vessels from multiple agencies.
Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (D-MD) are the latest to take a crack at restoring the yard’s aging infrastructure. The Coast Guard Yard took its current form in World War II, and it is not laid out for modern operations. It lacks storage space, its production areas are not optimally arranged, and it is difficult to move oversize components around the facility (a real challenge for a shipyard). In addition, it lacks drydock capacity to handle the Coast Guard’s new flagship patrol vessel class, the National Security Cutter.
That said, the yard does a lot for its small size and aging infrastructure. At any given time, it hosts an average of eight ships belonging to the Coast Guard, the other armed forces and a range of federal agencies. It also helps fix up decommissioned ships for foreign military sale, and it houses the only Navy-certified heavy weapons shop in USCG service.
The Coast Guard Yard’s needs were not included in the Shipyard Act, an FY22 NDAA amendment that pays for repairs for the U.S. Navy’s four public yards. The Navy’s facilities need billions of dollars for modernization and repair; all face long-term challenges with delayed project completions and backlogs, and their high-profile problems have received the bulk of public attention.
There have been previous attempts to make sure the Coast Guard Yard’s repair priorities also get addressed. Last year, Rep. Elaine Luria introduced an NDAA amendment to invest $175 million in the facility for improvements to its dock, drydock and capital equipment. Sen. Roger Wicker introduced a similar proposal in the “Unwavering Support for Our Coast Guard Act,” which would have provided $350 million for the yard’s restoration.
Van Hollen and Cardin’s bill contains the most ambitious funding level yet proposed. It includes $400 million for the construction of a floating drydock and implementation of the first three phases of the Coast Guard’s shipyard optimization plan, plus another $232 million to complete the plan’s objectives. In addition to the drydock, this would include wharf improvements, environmental remediation, a new warehouse facility, a new travel lift and other improvements as needed.