The Coast Guard’s Famous-class medium-endurance cutters (WMECs), commissioned between 1983 and 1991, are scheduled to soon begin a service life extension program (SLEP). The Famous-class SLEP is designed to maintain the ships’ reliability and capability until the new offshore patrol cutters (OPCs) are commissioned. The OPCs will first replace the 50-year-old Reliance-class WMECs, then the Famous class.
While the major work planned for the SLEP will increase the ships’ reliability, surprisingly it also will significantly degrade their capability. For example, the highest priority work item is replacing the ship’s service generators and power distribution system. The current prime movers have been obsolete for years, and the switchboards and associated components are likewise becoming more challenging to maintain. This work is critical to ensure the viability of these cutters for the next phase of their lives.