Late in June, the Coast Guard awarded the Integrated Coast Guard Systems consortium a multiyear contract for its transformation under the Deepwater project. The total value of the contract, in current dollars, is $16.95 billion, including $11.04 billion to buy new ships, inshore craft, and aircraft. Funding is to be incremental at about $500 million each year for the next 20 to 30 years. The leading partners in the consortium are Lockheed Martin, responsible for the command-and-control system, and Northrop Grumman, responsible for the new cutters (which will be designed at the company's Pascagoula yard). The program includes upgrades of up to 49 existing cutters and 93 existing helicopters.
With many of its craft quite elderly, the Coast Guard has been planning Deepwater for about five years. For much of that time, there was widespread skepticism that the project would be approved, not least because the service's parent agency, the Department of Transportation, was said to be far more concerned with land-bound forms of transportation, such as roads. Events since 11 September have dramatized the importance of the Coast Guard as a key element of homeland defense.