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tv   Coast Guard Officials Testify at Oversight Hearing  CSPAN  October 19, 2021 2:35pm-4:14pm EDT

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the port authority to get things done faster. they have their agendas and they're focused on making sure that their union membership is protected, they're safe. there's two sides to this equation but, yeah, absolutely if you don't include them, if you don't have their help, it definitely can be a deterrent to what the port authority is trying to accomplish. the other thing to understand, also, the longshoremen contract in long beach and los angeles is up in july. so this could be a contentious situation. i'm hopeful that longshoremen and the port authority will work together for the common good and looking to automate and make sure the union membership is protected, also. >> we have a viewer who asked if vaccine mandates are partially responsible for disruptions? >> to a certain degree, absolutely. we're seeing different types of operations so it is, but the
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best thing is to get vaccinated. leaving this here. can you watch on live now to a coast guard oversight hearing. members of the senate subcommittee will be hearing from coast guard commandant admiral karl schultz this is live coverage on c-span3. >> i call the subcommittee to order. i want to knew for attending this afternoon's hearing on the coast guard. it is an honor to take the time to hold this important hearing. this committee and the senate are working on a number of important initiatives that impact the coast guard including the fiscal year 2022 funding bills. historic investments in american jobs and the infrastructure bill. and protecting against the impacts of climate change through the build back better budget.
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and, finally, work is already under way on drafting the next coast guard authorization bill. the administration's budget request for the coast guard for fiscal year 2022 seeks to make significant investments to improve the readiness and capabilities for the coast guard and to improve the quality of life for coast guard members and their families. of the $13.1 billion requested. one of the largers acquisition periods which includes programs like the offshore patrol cutter and the polar security cutter. unfortunately, this budget request does not adequately plan or budget for the impacts of climate change particularly for
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construction of coast guard facilities that have long been underfunded and are in need of replacement due to the effects of climate change. this concern extends to the fact that the budget does not include funding for an additional great lakes icebreaker. increasing ice breaking capacity on the great lakes is critical to facilitating commerce and transportation in winter months and ice breakers play a critical role in preventing flooding which has been exacerbated by extremely high water levels as well as irregular and large ice flows made worse by climate change. additionally i'm concerned with the coast guard's recent approach on buy america policies. i'm discouraged by the direction the coast guard is taking on procuring critical components like engines and shipboard service generators on programs like the polar security cutter.
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i will be interesting to hear how the coast guard is considering the health of the american supplier, our industrial base and the life cycle costs associated this will continue to be a priority for me as chair. finally, while the u.s. coast guard has made commendable progress in equity and inclusion women make up only 23% of the officer corps and only 15% of the enlisted workforce. i will be interested to hear in your testimony and answers about the progress made on improving representation of women as well as racial and ethnic diversity within the coast guard. as chair, i will make it a priority to ensure that we are conducting oversight on all coast guard issues from acquisitions like the great lakes icebreaker to personnel issues including diversity and support for women and families. accordingly today's hearing will be a little different. we will hear testimony from both
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the commandant and master chief van der haden. admiral, thank you for being here today. you are no stranger to this committee and master chief, welcome. i look forward to hearing from you about how congress can invest in the coast guard's most important resource, its people. thank you for being here today. with that i will hand it over to a great advocate for the coast guard and a great colleague. >> well, i want to begin by thanking chair baldwin and congratulating you, my colleague, on the chairmanship, and i look forward to working with you again as we have, as chair and ranking, in past conferences. so thank you. i think we're off to a great start and i want to thank our two distinguished witnesses today, the commandant of the united states coast guard.
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gentlemen, welcome and thank you for your service and for the great men and women you are privileged to lead. congress has given the coast guard a wide range of missions from rescue, ice breaking, marine, environmental protection, port security, drug interdiction, international crisis response and readiness to support department of defense operations. safety issues of national security are essential to our economic security and national security. global stability is dependent on safe and unfettered access to the maritime domain. i have great appreciation for the work that you two gentlemen do and that the men and women of the coast guard do for this nation and for my state. during my time as chair of the subcommittee and the 116th congress, we held, i think it was seven hearings on the work
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the coast guard does day in and day out so other members of the senate and the american people can get a better sense of the great work that you and the members of the coast guard do for our country. many of these hearings focus on the coast guard's efforts in alaska. with more coastline than the rest of the country combined and a large portion of our ocean and fisheries, that discussion and the hearings often focus on the need to expand coast guard assets and resources in a region of growing global and international focus, and that is the arctic. i'm pleased to say congress has made significant progress in this area. we have authorized six polar security cutters. two of which are now fully funded and we are working to
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fully fund a third. we have invested over $513 million for coast guard infrastructure in alaska and continue to fund new classes of vessels all of which will aid in the coast guard mission whether in the great lakes, in the arctic, or projecting power across the globe where we need it most. the arctic has quickly shifted. i have a couple slides here. from an area isolated from the rest of the world to what is now clearly referred to as the region of the next great power competition with regard to russia and china. both countries are all in on the arctic. russia has over 50 ice breakers, while china has -- is building their fourth. they claim they're a near arctic nation, whatever the heck that means, because they're not that
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close to the arctic. russia, in addition to over 50 ice breakers has opened 16 deep water ports, 14 airfields, built arctic military bases and even formed a new arctic northern command, all in the arctic region. vladimir putin has called it the next, quote, suez canal and has threatened to sink any foreign vessels that do not have a russian pilot aboard or escort vessel. we have seen u.s. fishing vessels forced out of our own area by armed russian war craft. we have seen warships patrolling off our alaskan coast. without persistent u.s. presence in the arctic, we risk leaving
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an opening for these type of aggressive actions to continue from these two countries in particular. the next graphic depicts the arctic and shows the two prominent opening sea routes because of the receding sea routes. it is an expansive area that is remarkably difficult to operate in, incredibly remote and while operating is still often covered in very thick sea ice. the coast guard arctic strategy, quote, the coast guard must be able to provide physical presence at will to uphold sovereignty, carry out operational missions, promote freedom and navigation and fulfill other national and international obligations. i could not agree more. it is foolish to think, however, the u.s. is currently able to
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have the ability to operate in the arctic particularly when compared to russia and even china. we don't and that needs to change. that said the coast guard is making progress closing this gap with the leadership represented here today with consistent deployment to the berrign sea. i was happy to see the success of the current transit through the northwest passage. these times of deployments demonstrate our ability to operate in the region and our commitment to ensuring a free and open arctic region. these operations must not only continue, but i believe must increase. that is one of the reasons i will soon be introducing legislation to increase the influence and capabilities of our united states coast guard in the arctic to persistent presence in that critical
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region. without further investment in our polar capabilities and without continuous u.s. presence in the arctic, our adversaries' influence will grow. if their influence is allowed to continue unchecked, we risk the ability to protect our vessels, u.s. vessels, conducting commerce, conducting fisheries activities, and forcing international law and, therefore, we need the coast guard more than ever. i want to thank our witnesses again for participating in this hearing today and thank the chair for her leadership on calling this important hearing. thank you. >> thank you, ranking member sullivan. we will now turn to our witnesses for their opening testimony. we will start with admiral schultz and then call upon master chief vander haden. we will include your full testimony in the committee's record so please try to keep your remarks to five minutes in length.
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>> madam chair, it's an honor for the master chief and i to appear before you today and before two great advocates in the missions we do across the globe and the nation. the united states coast guard remains keenly focused on the priorities or lines of effort mapped out in our 2018 to 2022 strategic plan, and those are, first, maximizing readied in today and tomorrow, addressing the nation's complex maritime challenges and delivering mission excellence anytime anywhere. let me start by thanking the committee for your enduring support of the u.s. coast guard and our efforts to tackle these strategic priorities. the fiscal year 2021 consolidated appropriations act helped sustain critical momentum. specifically noting attention to coast guard surface and aviation fleet recapitalization, the injection of much-needed funding to address our aging shore infrastructure, and information
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technology and essential investments in our workforce. the president's budget request reflects the same readiness priorities as we look to provide our workforce with the capable assets, the resilient infrastructure, and modern systems they need to conduct operations and meet current and future demands. we need sustained operations and support budget growth of about 3% to 5% on an annual basis. with your support we continue to build the nation's first new heavy polar ice breakers in half a century, completing the polar security program of record will provide the global reach and the ice breaking capability necessary to ensure sustained operations in the polar or the high latitude regions. the polar security cutters will enable the united states to protect sovereignty, natural marine resources, counter malign actors and respond to new mission demands caused by receding ice. continued progress on the offshore cutter program is vital
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as they will replace our legacy fleet of 210 and 270 medium endurance cutters which have served with distinction but sold for many decades. yet, they are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and require extraordinary efforts by our extraordinary efforts by our personnel. despite the hurculean maintenance efforts this fleet of medium endurance cutters has lost roughly 11% of operational capacity over the past two years and that is the degradation the front line mission performance. i am increasingly concerned about our ability to sustain operations with our legacy rotary wing, mh 65 and 60 helicopters as 56 dolphin parts are increasingly hard to locate. hence the coast guard must immediately transition toward an all mh 60 jay hauk fleet. to meet today's standards for energy efficiency and resilience we must update our shore facility. the fiscal year 21 provided substantial support and the continued budget request makes important progress in this
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infrastructure. we must keep pace with the technological advances. including a key economic for our nation that generates $5.6 trillion of annual economic activity and supports more than 30 million jobs. we must ensure the mts's safety, security, and reliability. today our service remains at an inflection point with respect to service readiness. modern assets, facility, and technology will help close the readiness gap and enable our work force of 54,000 active, reserve, civilian members to focus efforts on operations in the solving of complex problems to deliver mission performance. on top of the day-to-day operations across the mission portfolio the coast guard is increasingly called upon to respond to events and new mission demands created by climate change that have major impact on our nation. between the years 2015 and 2020 the coast guard surged personnel and assets responded to 12 major hurricanes, category 3 or
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larger, and numerous other tropical storms impacting the homeland. wildfires in oregon and california, flooding in the heartland, emergency at the southwest border and support to operation allies welcomed not to mention support to the bahamas in 2019 for hurricane dorian and this past summer's earthquake on the south of haiti. our complex operating environment and challenging missions makes it critical that we harness the full power of the background, experience, and imagination of every member of our coast guard work force. myself and senior leaders across the organization remain fully committed to fostering an environment that provides an inclusive and rewarding journey for all coast guardsmen in our quest to be a service increasingly reflective of the american public we are honored to serve. we must position ourselves to be an employee choice. i could not be prouder of your coast guard men and women executing responsibilities a at home and abroad particularly against the packdrop of the pandemic. they stood with unpeaked
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professionalism and unmatched resilience and with your continued support we'll remain always ready. thank you very much. i look forward to your questions. >> now master chief? >> thank you, chair baldwin, coincidentally my last two trips were to alaska and wisconsin so i feel like it's good to sit in front of you. i want to join admiral shultz in extending gratitude on behalf of the men and women of the coast guard for your enduring support of our efforts to restore service readiness. we are an armed force of the united states and the nation's lead maritime enforcement agency and we're a maritime safety and regulatory agency. the men and women that i represent today truly make up the finest coast guard in the world. our dedicated coast guard members are on the front lines every day carrying out operations globally and protecting our homelands,
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maritime domain from constantly evolving threats. your support ensures they can focus each day on the difficult missions with the full knowledge that their housing, health, and family are well taken care of. i am extremely proud of the entire coast guard work force and their ability to persevere through the covid-19 pandemic and the myriad of challenges we face as a nation. as i travel around the country and speak with the troops our morale is high. our dedicated work force understands the importance of their service to their nation and the challenges we must overcome. the current challenge i am most concerned about is the ability to retain the work force needed to operate our cutters and boats and aircraft. as we replace our aging assets new cutters, helicopters, and planes being built require us to grow our work force now so that we are prepared to operate and maintain these technologically advanced resources when they arrive. although today we enjoy the highest retention rate of the military services we need to retain the future work force at
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an even higher rate to meet increasing demand domestically and abroad. coast guard leadership is taking a proactive approach to improving our retention by analyzing, evaluating, and mitigating the causes that may lead members to leave our service early. we have contracted with outside agencies for several studies to provide the coast guard with recommendations to remove retention barriers and provide a better quality of life for all our members. based on these recommendations, we implemented several work force initiatives including adjusting assignment policies to facilitate the colocation of dual military families and modernizing the body composition program to adopt a compliance method similar to what the air force and the navy are using. we also updated our parental leave policy to allow for 120 days of leave for any primary care giver and created a program where coast guard reservists can be called to active duty to back fill members when they go on
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prenatal, maternity, convelescent, and primary care giver leave. these updates definitely enhance the quality of life for our members while maintaining our high standards of readiness. policy changes are just one avenue to improve retention but policy change alone is not enough to retain our best and brightest. we developed an action plan to reinforce the importance of inclusive leadership at all levels especially leadership by example. we started at the top. the top of our enlisted work force to demonstrate our commitment to good leadership. we completely changed our advancement process to master chief petty officer and this new process includes a panel that conducts a thorough review of our members' records with an emphasis on selecting proven leaders who exemplify our core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. we have also stepped up our leadership game by expanding the availability of mentoring. our office of leadership recently launched a new mobile enabled mentoring program to connect mentors and mentees
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through traditional one-on-one mentoring on a global basis. this industry proven at base mentoring program provides flexibility to people searching for a mentor. this technology enables mentors from across the service to connect with mentees to connect with mentors of their choosing and gain valuable insight and advice to better manage their careers. i recently spoke to the chief of the air force joann bass and the air force is using the same program. not often the air force copies the coast guard but i think we hit a home run with this one. as we build the coast guard work force of the future we recognize the important imperative to be an employer of choice that reflects the public we serve. this summer the rand corporation finalized a study to identify barriers and recruitment retention of racial, ethnic, general minorities in the active duty work force and we are implementing initiatives to ensure members from under represented minority groups can thrive in our senior -- and our
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senior enlisted leaders are excited to roll out these vital improvements. your coast guard is hard at work to attract a talented and diverse work force and i appreciate the committee's commitment. thank you for inviting me to testify today. i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you. i want to start this round of questions by talking about the great lakes icebreaker. climate change does not mean the end of cold winters in the great lakes. in fact, three of the worst great lakes ice seasons of the past several decades have occurred during the last seven years. by one estimate, these three winters cost our regions economic -- economy approximately $2 billion with 10,000 jobs lost due to reductions in maritime commerce and the resulting impacts on
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manufacturers in the region. climate change is also contributing to more extreme weather events, larger quantities of precipitation, and higher lake levels. during the winter this results in greater risk of flooding because ice collects in rivers to form ice dams. our communities rely on coast guard ice breakers to break up these ice dams and prevent flooding in our communities. from transportation to saving lives and property from flooding we need more ice breakers. that's why i'm fighting for a new great lakes icebreaker to be funded in our current budget reconciliation bill. admiral schult, yes or no, do you support funding for a new great lakes icebreaker in the reconciliation package? >> madame chair, funding in the reconciliation package, absolutely in support of that. >> great. i appreciate your support,
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admiral. during the lake michigan ice jam caused flooding last winter, the coast guard's only great lakes heavy icebreaker was not available and smaller ice breaking cutters struggled to break through that ice jam. while the coast guard eventually accomplished their mission with the current assets, if a second heavy icebreaker had been available last winter the coast guard could have provided more flood relief more quickly. would you agree? >> senator, i don't have -- all the specifics around that. i would say, clearly, more capacity and a bigger breaker versus a small breaker, that is sort of common sense i would say depending on what is going on at the time we could find one breaker and one part of the great lakes having sailed up there it is quite a great distance but additional capacity, heavy capacity, capability, is probably a positive there that could lend to better outcomes, yes.
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>> thank you, admiral. now i wanted to turn to the importance of buy america policies. initial procurement costs for major programs like ship building are only a part of the total life cycle cost. in fact, probably less than one-third of the cost, with sustainment being a significant portion of the overall cost. over the last 18 months, we've also seen complications arising from the disruptions in supply chains when foreign sources are involved. with nearly all of the coast guard's assets undergoing transition to new platforms this is really an opportunity to assess how the coast guard is making acquisition decisions with total life cycle costs in the health of the domestic industrial base in mind. some past decisions on sourcing
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critical components have resulted in or are likely to result in more money being spent to support unproven components than what might have been saved in initial acquisition. i'm concerned that recent decisions on components for the polar security cutter are heading down the same path. would you be willing to commit to working with me and the ranking member on the committee to ensure your acquisition plans take into consideration the entire life cycle costs and recognize the value and importance of our domestic industrial base? >> madame chair, let me start sort of in the reverse order of your questions. so to your last point we absolutely recognize and support the united states industrial base. specifically, with respect to the polar security cutter woe will certainly explore the ability to support the engining, major components through the full life cycle costs. we do believe the plan we have
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with the cat mock engines already purchased through long lead time material and we have assurances we'll have sufficient engines through the building of the three polar cars, a 30-year plan to support those engines given the complexity and the build and how that ship is built around those engines it would be a very difficult stage we're talking about revisiting that decision. if we're talking about other places and other fleets, possibly medium breakers, great lakes icebreaker i think very much that conversation, i think a difficult conversation on a ship that we, through a consolidated contract award we've actually slipped the delivery date to the third quarter fiscal 25. but that's some part injected by the fact we haven't built an icebreaker in a half century. the covid complications, a lot of international collaboration that really didn't lend itself to zoom type calls or face to face. we are trying to do a very ambitious program of building a heavy icebreaker, again undone so in 50 years, on a compressed
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timeline. i think that engine decision would be very difficult to reopen at this point without tremendously long delays. i believe there is a support system for the full life cycle cost of that platform. a broader case, your question, yes. to that specific one i think it is a little more challenging conversation to open up at this point. >> all right. ranking member sullivan. >> thank you, madame chair. admiral, i want to begin the discussion talking about iuu fishing. it is not simply illegal fishing but a resource problem, security problem, often intertwined even with human rights violations. i know that the coast guard has been working hard on this issue but it is a challenge. we are seeing increasingly that it is a challenge particularly as it relates to the chinese communist party and the chinese fleets that are literally
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scouring the world and often trying to hide their iuu involvement. can you just give me an update on what the coast guard has been doing, and are there things we can do, we, the congress, to bolster the coast guard ability to counter iuu fishing to better expose those responsible? there is a lot of bipartisan interest in this issue. the reason i just mentioned. we're going to be working on legislation but we certainly want the coast guard's input. >> ranking member sullivan, thanks for the question. you're absolutely correct. iuu, illegal and unreported fishing is a global challenge. i was up in newport with the world's coast guards and navies in 2018. that was sort of the epiphany for me as services and many of the world navies look like the coast guard and i was bombarded with questions about how do we work together on this?
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>> and other, smaller country need our help. >> yes, sir. not about ct or narcotics. they want to talk about fish. i was back there this fall. there's ecological damage, you know, coastal states, their resources are harvested. those benefits do not make it back to the coastal nations. those benefits make it out to a transport -- >> hurts sustainable fisheries. >> yes, sir. food sustainment issue. look at the rise in projected growth on the african continent population wise 40% of the protein derives from the ocean there. this is a global problem, sir. what we've done in 2020 in september we issued what we call a ten-year strategic outlook. this is not positioning the coast guard to be the world's fish cops because we don't have the capacity. we are trying to take a lead role to stitch together like minded nations. we need to partner with ngo, with academia. there's a lot of capability out there. we need to figure out how we share information and how we illuminate that.
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if you look on the east and west coast of the african continent, south america, we saw the 350 china flag and/or china characteristic, maybe south american flag, but probably opaque processes. we sent a national security cutter down there in the course of three or four days and identified at least a couple dozen vessels where their automated information system didn't correlate. we see the same challenges off the african continent. what we can do is elevate that. what congress can do is articulate the importance of this. it has been mentioned in the nda before and i think it is about collaborating and i think when i go back to the projected operations and support for the coast guard that allows us to attenuate this on a global scale. this is a big bite we're taking off but i think we're a recognized leader and bring a voice of credibility. what we want to do is take a nation like china and we say responsible flag states don't send their vessels 9,000 miles away and have no coast guard there to make sure they're
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following the rules. >> and try to hide what they're doing. >> yes, sir. >> we look forward to working with you on this. i think there is a lot of bipartisan support for this kind of action in the senate. we will be reaching out to you and your team on help on next steps in terms of legislation. i mentioned in my opening statement the issue of monitoring foreign military exercises. as you know, that massive russian exercise in the american/alaskan eez in 2019 was quite disturbing. and i mentioned some of what happened. what have you done, what has the coast guard done in terms of lessons learned from that? do you think there were some things in which the coast guard was a little bit late to the game in terms of informing our fishing fleet, what are the kind of lessons learned and what's the coast guard's plan to protect u.s. fishing fleet if
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similar events were to occur in the future? >> yes, sir. ranking member, sullivan. i would say, yes. there are things we learned. the russians as a nation have the right to exercise international waters as they're doing. >> but they don't have the right to shoo off alaskan fishing vessels. >> no, sir. we realize between the fishing community and that product for, you know, advanced notice of what you're doing there is some communication breakdown. we're working that middle space. i think at that point an uneducated crowd up there that's just legitimately fishing has a right to expect to continue fishing, too. so it was a function of people not having -- >> you're not kind of besmirching the fleet. >> i'm not. i'm saying because they didn't know i think they got caught up in a situation where hey they felt like they're being muscled out of there and they were. had the system worked and they had been educated hopefully they'd have chosen not to fish in a hot area and we could have
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alleviated that. that said we need to recognize the rights of the alaskan fishermen and if russians are operating in the places they didn't do the correct note if i kags there is a rub we need to be cognizant of. it's how do we work the middle space to ensure a hydro land gets in the hands of an alaskan fisherman operating on the bering sea. we want to avoid that tension point. i'm not here substantiating what russia is or is not doing i'm saying they did not do anything internationally in violation because they filed the right notification. it was a breakdown in process. hopefully it doesn't repeat itself. we have tried to walk that back. >> senator blumenthal. >> thanks. welcome to both of our witnesses today. thank you for your service to our nation, your extraordinary commitment to the coast guard. commandant shultz i just want to make sure that i know the answer
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to this question. i think i do. the coast guard museum is a continuing priority and you'll work with us in seeking additional funds, correct? >> senator, i am absolutely committed to the establishment of a national coast guard museum. we're working with the national coast guard museum association, yourself, and your senate counterpart senator murphy and the rest of the connecticut delegation. >> yes, sir. thank you. i've been disturbed by reports i've seen recently about merchant marine cadets who have been victims of sexual assault while at sea. i realize the u.s. merchant marine academy is separate from the coast guard. but the coast guard is responsible for investigating these incidents. i wonder if you could tell us whether you've seen an increase in the numbers of reports, whether you are disturbed? i would guess you are disturbed by any report of sexual assault at sea.
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but has this problem been increasing in number of incidents reported? >> it is abhorrent to think of someone whether a member of our naval services or a merchant mariner would be sexually assaulted at sea. i take great offense with that. we have had less than ten cases, over the last ten years, less than ten cases, less than one case per year. actually five cases. so it is not a lot of cases making it to the coast guard. we have investigated each of the five, referred them to the u.s. attorney's office for action. we had one case where we went after an organization, shipping company that didn't timely notify. but i suspect there's probably a gap there between actual behaviors occurring at sea and the amount of reporting. i think there are some opportunities to work collaboratively with the department of transportation and shipping companies and mirad to make sure these terrible actions are being reported and actioned. we stand postured to action with our investigative services.
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what is difficult is these ships are at sea. rotational crews sometimes 300 days a year. so even when we have a case getting to the ship, preservation of evidence, there is a lot of complexity. that said i think there is an area we all need to do better. >> and probably also in preventing them in the first place. >> clearly, prevention is the most important part of this. then when we have to respond we have to be aggressive and hold people accountable. >> thank you. i understand that you are committed to implementing the goals and objectives of the report released in august by the rand corporation. it found a need for more diversity and equity and inclusion and i wonder if you could update us focusing on advancement, promotion, career
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development, those goals within the coast guard. >> thanks. we are absolutely committed. the study was the second. we did a hole is ticks women's study previous years and that helped us. we closed retention gaps. we are stepping out with equal vigor. my first year we completed the personal rights task, where studies weren't shevld but things were acted on. we have a cross functional team that has broken this into chunks. we are going to go down every specific recommendation and try to drive them over the goal line. we've invested, sir, from 600,000 in dni initiatives back around 2017 to more than $12 million right now. we are serious about this. it kind of reflects back to both my statement about being a nation served by a coast guard more representative of the americans we serve. there is no military service that interacts more with the public than the united states coast guard. we have to get this right and it is absolutely mine and the entire top leadership team's top
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intention >> i am assuming that the commitment extends to the coast guard academy and outreach and recruitment as well as working toward inclusion. >> senator, absolutely. our academy, the class of 2025 is 40% women. it's 38% under represented minorities. we have the highest, both women and under represented of any of the service academies but we are driving toward the 50% that reflects for women and driving toward, you know, still in terms of african-americans in service about 5.5%, 6%. we need to drive that closer to the 11% or 12% that represents society with the propensity of service. we're trying to recruit in different places, we stood up five new recruiting officer sites to get to places we recruit successfully and we want to make not just the service academy part but every officer that commissions goes through new london. that is a touch point.
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we want to make sure they are educated leaders, have an open mind, lead the fleet with no biasses, no unconscious biasses and want to be tremendous contributors to our united states coast guard going forward. >> thank you very much. >> next i call on the ranking member of the full committee senator wicker. >> thank you, madame chair. i appreciate our two witnesses being here and thank you admiral shultz for pointing out that the coast guard academy actually leads all of the federally sanctioned service academies in terms of diversity. you're not where you'd like to be but in terms of the academy, you're further down the road toward accomplishment than everyone else. some diversity has not translated to the enlisted ranks. i have a bill that would require the coast guard to partner with institutions such as the historically black community
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colleges and universities in order to increase diversity in the enlisted ranks. what do you two gentlemen think about that and was that one of the recommendations that the rand study mentioned? we'll start with you, master chief. >> thank you, sir. appreciate it. so we are grateful for all the support we get from the committee. you gave us the opportunity to bring on some new recruiters this year, and we're expanding our junior rotc programs. we had one junior rotc program and the commandant and through his support and through the support for the resources we've got and we've been able to expand that junior rotc. i think we'll do a better job getting into these high schools to start to tell the coast guard
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story. i visited with some of our members on the hill and they say the coast guard is the best kept secret. we don't want to be the best kept secret. we want to be well known. we are doing a lot better job getting out and telling our story. we're grateful for this, you know, community colleges are a great place to attract folks who perhaps might could use the gi bill, might could use some help from the gi bill. we are grateful for any support that we can get and you're giving us the ability to also get more folks through cape may. this fiscal year 2022 budget looks really good for being able to build out our training center and boot camp in cape may so we can get more folks through. that is going to be critically important and the training centers as well. you've also given us opportunity to improve quality of life at the small stations with help to retain folks we do recruit. i am grateful and i wish i had another year of service because i think we'll eat into this pretty good.
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>> i'm glad to hear that you're enthusiastic about junior rotc. i am a graduate myself. but also the rand corporation has done extensive studies about the effectiveness of jrazi and it is way more than a recruitment tool for the military or coast guard. it is way -- a way for a subset of a high school to do better than their peers. to graduate at a higher rate to make better grades and do better upon graduation. so to hear j.razi be mentioned in a favorable light is absolutely music to my ears and i can tell you senator sullivan
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and i and others on the armed services committee have done our best to help fund more opportunities. i've never found a superintendent or a principal that did not respond favorably when i asked how jrazi is at your school or would you like one at your school they all say yes. that is encouraging. rather than shift to you on that question, senator sullivan believes in showing off the coast guard in alaska and the best way to understand that is to go there. he took me all over the place from north to south and out on the aleutian. we went to kodiak and there was a refueling pier used by the coast guard to refuel cutters. on more than one occasion the coast guard has had to stop using the pier for fueling
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because high winds put excessive strain on its structural integrity. is this an isolated example or what are the sorts of operational safety hazards they face? what in the world are we going to do about the $3 billion backlog? you've got two seconds. >> yes, sir. we're going to do something about it. we got about #it billion dollars from infrastructure backlog. >> 2 billion. >> 2 billion of infrastructure, a billion of maintenance and other things. that pier in kodiak absolutely needs to be replaced at some point. the unfunded priority list has been a very effective tool members of the senate on both sides of the aisle have championed topics for us. we do have infrastructure challenge across the coast guard. we'll continue to voice into that. it is part of the readiness narrative. these things detract from the
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coast guard ability to provide the nation with the service america wants its coast guard to do. you have our commitment to put our voices against this, take folks out from the hill that want to see things. show them the challenges and what we can do. we can respond from a hurricane harvey from a new facility in galveston and go rescue 11,000 people off the streets of america when there's 52 inches of rain in 36 years. had we done that from an old facility it would have been very different. modern facilities, modern piers, continued support from the administration and senate allows us to buy down some of that challenge. >> an infrastructure bill that addresses this type of hard asset infrastructure would be a god send. >> sir, your legislation that gets after support for the coast guard, which has really niche stuff and i know you just visited, some things about recruiting and more inclusive, you talk about the pay and potential shutdown, that
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legislation is very helpful. if i could take a few seconds, we have a new program in north charleston, pinellas county, florida. that's two on top of one in miami and out in camden county, north carolina. i think for buying up a couple salaries maybe former coast guards and we can touch schools and stem communities and i see four becoming eight becoming 30 in the coming years. we are very excited about the new authorities to the junior rotc. i think it will get us places we haven't been before. >> next i'll call on the chair of the full committee, senator cantwell. >> thank you, chair baldwin and thanks so much for holding this important hearing. admiral shultz you probably couldn't get a more dedicated group of people on this side to the missions of the coast guard. we are all big supporters of making sure the coast guard has the resources it needs. it is good to see you and master
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chief vander haden here so thank you. i want to follow up on my colleague's questions about sexual assault. you know i sent you this letter recently about sexual assault. i want to say we've worked together on child care, expanding health care in the coast guard. definitely appreciate those efforts. we've worked with you on paid family leave. very proud the coast guard was leading the way on paid family leave. i think you recognize 40% of your work force being women you had to have better policies so we appreciate you working there. the issue of sexual assault i think is the next area where you need to spend some time. i'm not sure -- i would also say it is also clear the coast guard has many, many missions and very hard to meet all of those missions. this one, oversight of other vessels and those vessels and what they are doing,
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particularly when we're putting young women on those vessels to do research, basically they are students and now they are on these vessels. i just want to go back to this issue of the accounts we've had by kings ship midshipman, questions about the investigations of u.s. flag ships. i know there are fines. you can issue fines. but i want to know whether you believe we need a more aggressive enforcement plan of sexual assaults at sea and the actions that should be taken when we hear of or find incidents. >> madame chair i think it is abhorrent behavior and we absolutely need to be aggressive. we've had ten cases, five cases over ten years so not a lot of cases making it through that.
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we have investigated and referred each and every one of those to the u.s. attorney in the appropriate district. we had one case where we had a shipping line that wasn't responsive and we went after them through the revocation and fining process. i suspect there are more activities going undetected and unreported. >> exactly. >> we have a tips line and we're trying to push it out there. we've gone to the various maritime journals and said here is who you contact. i think there is an education piece. we are doing a lot of things. i love to come back and brief the committee and some of the coast guard investigative service is doing and then there are challenges with evidence collection. the big ships on the oceans 320 days a year, rotational crews. we find out after the fact. getting evidentiary matters, trying to model some things, do some telefon kali but you need medical experts. we are looking at different ways to gather evidence. there is room for improvement
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>> i think investigation at sea is very hard and the reason why you say you think there is probably more there that is undetected i am saying exactly because we're hearing from them. >> yes, ma'am. you have my commitment. >> as whistle-blowers. to me when i look at the fine of $5,000 to $10,000 certainly not enough. i think we have to look at increasing that. as we diversify this work force we have to make sure that women are safe at sea and that we have the resources in infrastructure to oversee the operations of these ships you have oversight over and make sure that we're -- we have a very aggressive action plan to get the behavior that we want from those parent companies. parent companies have to take this very seriously. >> and take it seriously when they feel there is accountability. >> yes. we are in agreement on that. so i'll look forward to an action plan and formal response to our letter. on the issue of the california
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oil spill and this issue of congestion, it seems to me a new phenomena has happened. we're parking a lot of ships because of whatever you want lots of different reasons related to the pandemic so as many as a hundred vessels drifting off the west coast resulting in anchorage areas. i was surprised to learn the anchorage directly adjacent to the pipeline in the california oil spill had a categorical exclusion under the national environmental protection act which meant it didn't go through full environmental review. we're parking lots of ships. do we know where we're parking them? are we parking them too close to these pipe lines? i would hope that you would -- i am not trying to catch you off
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guard today. i know you have new, informal drift zones to help accommodate more vessels and i know you are looking at the impacts of this in our state. we have anchorages throughout puget sound, holmes harbor being used for the first time in a decade causing air pollution and noise pollution to communities. and so i just want to know what you are doing to help manage the situation and protect wildlife in these areas. >> yes, madame chair. you are absolutely correct. there are challenges with the volume and backlogs and some of that is obviously not in the coast guard -- but managing the risks with shipping is squarely in our wheel house. we are looking at obviously the case in l.a., the oil spill, we are investigating that and investigating causal factors. was there a ship involved. we made one shipping company and owners and operators a party to the investigation in recent days
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but that is just the start of the conversation. we need to look at that, you know, when you declare an anchorage that is functionality working with the state, with the localities. we partner through the harbor safety committee and try to make informed decisions. the anchorage with this pipeline was created in 2006 and was created because of the size of larger vessels, now a thousand plus feet carrying up to 18,000, soon 20,000 te u-conn tainers on the back. >> i don't know we did the environmental review because we didn't know -- >> i think it is the complexity and changing landscape. we need to use this case to really dive in. all of our cabinet reports are managing this to a different degree in different places and we have to be sure we're at the level of safety we think we are and go back and look where any of the pipe lines are, proximity. i can't attribute this oil spill to a ship situation but it is a plausible scenario with a vessel we've made a party to that.
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it could be the case. we have a lot more investigative work. i don't want to get ahead of the headlights on that. we are absolutely looking at this and you have my commitment to make sure we want to keep the environment safe, not collisions at sea, ships drifting offshore, that creates different problems. we got whales, you know, your area off of l.a. we changed the shipping channels when i was commander out there to accommodate the whales in safer fashion and found mutually compatible places. this is challenging us in different ways. bigger ships, more ships, just in time delivery systems. a ship doesn't want to sit at shore and maybe miss its turn to the dock. there are a lot of moving parts to work with other stakeholders and make sure we are doing this as responsibly as we can as a nation and there is a coast guard piece from a safety perspective absolutely >> i think you need to think about whether we do environmental impact or on the wildlife >> i will go back and get smarter on that. i'll look at that. >> thank you.
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>> next senator johnson. >> thank you for your service. admiral shultz on august 23rd the fda approved the comernity vaccine but extended under emergency use for the other pfizer vaccine. on august 24th secretary austin issued his memorandum on the mandate for the military. later that month the coast guard said you would follow that basic procedure, correct? >> that is correct, we are mandating vaccine as the department of defense correct. >> the other branches have listed their deadlines. you're a component of dhs. the rest of the federal government is the deadline for the mandate is november 22nd. is that yours as well? >> senator, i have not publicly stated a deadline yet. it wouldn't be disingenuous to
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say the 22nd but i have sort of removed that decision space to see how things unfold. we are driving in the right duplex toward compliance but i haven't -- the right direction toward compliance but i haven't put out a hard date to our men and women yet. >> secretary austin said the mandatory vaccination will receive only those with full fda approval with accordans with labeling and guidance. at the same time when the fda on the 23rd when they did that distinct approval for comernity or however you pronounce that and extent of emergency use the fda said there is not sufficient approved vaccine available for distribution. there just wasn't. on september 13th nih published a statement that pfizer does not plan to produce any product with
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these new version over the next few months while the eua authorized products still available. it doesn't sound like comernity is still going to be available. are we going to mandate and force members of the military to take a vaccine not fully fda approved? have you secured enough product of the comernity to utilize in the forced vaccination program? >> senator, i believe the answer is yes we have sufficient holdings of the approved vaccination. but i will double check on that and circle back to your staff. i believe that is the case. >> okay. i would definitely appreciate that. a quick followup what are you going to do with members of the coast guard that refuse to take the vaccine? what is your procedure? >> senator, what we're trying to do right now is drive folks toward understanding the benefits of the vaccine, the risk to force from a readiness
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standpoint, education. we've had folks come in and want to see the vials. we bring them in and show them the vials and make the chief of medical staff available to answer questions. we are about 92.5% first shot and 90% total across the active force. lower percentage in the reserves but challenges as reservists are spread all over. we'll continue to educate. we have put some mitigating strategies in place so if you are not vaccinated you may not attend an advanced training course or curriculum until you get vaccinated. in terms of discharge and those things, on the active side somewhere just south of 3,000 unvaccinated folks, some portion of that have religious accommodations. we are still processing those. everyone will go through a chaplain. we haven't acted yet. there are medical waivers there. we are trying to get our arms around the specific numbers and then the course forward. we haven't made any decisions regarding administratively but are looking at the other
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services at those. >> we are getting a lot of letters and e-mails from people pretty concerned about this mandate. i hope you take that into consideration. let's shift gears in terms of the southern border. i know that the coast guard works within dhs primarily drug interdiction. let me first ask you because i've asked this question of secretary marcus. do you believe the southern border is secure? >> senator, may i answer that through the specific lens of narcotics smuggling or just at large? >> just secure. when we're encountering 200,000 people per month over 6700 per day it is overwhelming the system opening up channels for drug trafficking and human trafficking. do you believe the border is secure? do you believe it is closed is the terminology the secretary uses. >> senator, i think it would be disingeneral yous for me to say the border is closed. we've clearly seen numbers come
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in, unaccompanied children, sometimes families. we know there are numbers, tens of thousands coming in on a monthly basis. i would not say the border is closed. in terms of the decision about what type of nation and border policy, that is above my pay grade. i would say when there is more traffic at the border and the border patrol is stretched thinner is there higher propensity for illicit activity? the answer is clearly yes. >> so my concern is how are we utilizing personnel between the coast guard, between dhs? dhs also helps in drug interdiction. have they had to pull those people off drug interdiction? has the coast guard provided personnel to deal with the enormous flow? i know there was one report where coast guard was helping evacuate to air lift some of the illegal immigrants off the border into the interiors. could you just comment in terms of what the personnel movement has been? >> i would say when you're dealing with a couple hundred thousand people a month at the border it is an all hands on deck evolution. it is a capacity challenge.
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we assisted the department of homeland security for about six days. we moved i believe the number was around 1390 folks from del rio to other processing sites in texas. we had 29 flights. we had three c-130 aircraft and c-127 fixed wing supporting that mission. it is less than probably three dozen coast guard men and women to support that. but that was a department challenge and the coast guard clearly part of the dhs team stepped in to help. is that a place where i see coast guardsmen being involved all the time? no. that was a mission that i felt we brought some unique capabilities. in terms of other challenges at the border i've had medical people down there supporting border patrol so that front line border patrol men and women could get to the border. i think there is an ongoing role. it is sort of episodic right now for the coast guard. >> thank you for that. i am out of time. >> next, senator duckworth will be participating remotely as i
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understand. >> thank you, madame chair. it is a pleasure to join you today. i want to thank our witnesses for being here. gentlemen if you are looking for places to put rotc programs i invite you to illinois and all of my communities of color along the mississippi river not the least of which, a major union port for union logistics during the civil war another community of color that is struggling. i sure could use a jr. rotc program for the young people growing up there. i would like to, my first question, to be an international one. like a number of my colleagues on the commerce committee. i also serve on the armed services committee and am interested in the could he have had guard engagement with our allies in the indo pacific region through exercises and training. the coast guard has for example sent two cutters to vietnam, another one to sri lanka and many other nations around the
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world and also indo pacific. can you explain how the coast guard's international partnerships strengthens our nation's readiness to engage in great power competition in the indo pacific region? >> absolutely. thank you for the question and for your service. we recently the cno, you know, back in the late part of calendar 2020 put out tri services maritime advantage at sea and it tied together about the unique, complementary roles how we bring all domain capability, naval capability against challenges around the globe. a big part of that was oriented around the indo pacific part of the world. what we have, ma'am, is we support the indo pacific seventh fleet commander with national security cutters. on occasion we have the coast guard monroe just wrapping up there. she exercised with taiwan in late march, the japanese coast guard and japanese self-defense naval forces. we worked with the malaysian maritime enforcement agency,
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indonesian equivalent to the coast guard. we could do a lot of capacity building. we have coast guard liaisons, attaches that part of the world, going to singapore next summer. we partnered with the monroe with the australians and multi day, multi australia naval forces working with our coast guardsmen. i broaden it out a little bit and i look across the indo pacific region outside the south china sea, east china sea. we put three new fast response cutters 154-foot patrol craft in guam. i was out there for the commissioning. they are stretching about 10,000 miles, nautical mile range, with another platform that extends their ability for logistics support. they were just doing some work out there in the region with a nation -- this nation had an australian provided patrol boat that went aground so we helped them cover down on some of their fisheries enforcement efforts. i think you'll see an increasing demand. i know you are seeing an increasing demand signal from my
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dod, ship mates, colleagues at indo pacific for more high end national security cutter in the region, more extended operations across the bass oceania region, a great composition for checkbook diplomacy versus human-to-human interaction, free and open oceans. i think that is where the coast guard brings unique capability. china uses its coast guard in its maritime militia as their actioning arm and then sit back and say we're not militarizing the indo pacific. it is the united states navy, other allied partners. i would tell you, use your coast guard and who better to call out the behaviors by their coast guard than the united states coast guard that is a recognized global force of good here. >> thank you, admiral. if you could provide me an answer in written format because we are running out of time here could you give me update is through the fleet mix and what specific actions to the fleet mix would you recommend congress consider as we seek to empower
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the coast guard to expand its presence, operations, in the indo pacific region. i do want to touch on affordable housing for coasties. i am a coastie family. my brother was a coast guardsman of color asian american who dropped out of the coast guard, who wanted to be a lifer but left before -- because he just couldn't sustain the lifestyle and needed to go make more money. i am concerned that it is difficult for coast guard members to afford rent, housing, compete with growth and i would like to have a conversation with you about that in terms of what we can do to help you with this matter. finally, i koo want to close by saying that i've received feedback that the lack of basic support such as lactation accommodations for female coastes contributes to the sense
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female members must choose between serving in the coast guard and starting a family. i'll submit those questions to the record to address that issue. thank you and i yield back. >> thank you. good to see you you ma'am. we'll circle back with your staff and try to address all of those issues you raised here. >> thank you. >> we are going to start a second round of questioning. in honor of the democrat/republican tradition i'll call on my ranking member first. >> thank you, madame chair. gentlemen, let me dig into a little more, i talked about the ice breakers, the polar security cutters. admiral, you and i have talked about what is a concern of mine. i think it is a concern of yours which is a gap in coverage given the fire aboard the healy that left us, our country with one capable icebreaker. you and i talked about this idea
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on the unfunded priority list for an immediate lease for the potential for a capable vessel. there was some progress being made i think it's kind of been stalled. and then more specifically or longer term as we build these polar security cutters, my own view which i know you are very familiar with is that at least one of these should be actually home ported in the arctic. we've authorized six. we're building three now. there has been some discussion recently of home porting, perhaps the healy in alaska. can you touch on both of these short term leasing issues if we've made progress on those and then the longer term basing issues? again, i just think it makes complete strategic sense to have ice breakers, home ported in the place that they're going to be
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operationally most relevant, which is the arctic, which is alaska. i know that in the lower 48 it can take up to two weeks. it is certainly, i know from your perspective you want to put those where they're currently -- there are currently some and i think that makes sense. but if we have more with the option of the healy i'd like your views on both of those topics. >> ranking member, thank you for the question. i would tell you, in terms of the conversation about leasing and available ice breakers, those conversations continue. i think we have pivoted the conversation from potentially a lease to maybe a purchase scenario and we remain engaged with the administration and national security staff. >> do we need to do anything here, we the congress? i think you are seeing here coast guard assets, coast guard infrastructure, coast guard ice breakers, whether in the yard or on the great lakes is really bipartisan. so if you have asks that can
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help us accelerate that please let the congress know. >> senator, i think the conversation, the energizing the conversation about the geo strategic importance of the high latitudes keep that voice, keep amplifying that is important. i do not have the wherewithal in my budget as we're building five different capital ship programs right now from nse, opc, fast response cutters, polar security cutters, to lift the icebreaker purchase and/or lease. there was talk about potentially the administration lifting that. that piece seems to be a little less firm right now so how we would fund that i think we included a wedge on the unfunded priority list to the tune of $550 million. that would procure the vessel or maybe start initial lease. in my mind the smart way forward in return on taxpayer investments, keep it in our inventory. we would need sustainment funding. in terms of broader conversation
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about ice breaking capacity, future home ports, i owe you some feedback from our alaska home porting study in final review inside the headquarters. hasn't made it up to the front office yet. i believe it is in cutter forces, coming out of the engineers and things. i believe we'll be able to give you feedback on that. we have talked about different options in the arctic. i have consistently talked about a 6-3-1 strategy. one was get it going. psc number one under construction. a lot of goodness there. we talked about a minimum of three heavies. that's been the conversation. you know the story there. there's a conversation about what is beyond that. we did upgraded homework after the high latitude, highmore studies. arguably you can make a good business case for six to nine breakers for the nation. >> russia has 50 right? 54 is the number i know. >> yes, sir. >> many of which are nuclear. some of which are heavily weaponized. >> yes, sir. >> we are way behind. >> i think there is conversation about what is in the beyond three and then what is in the
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beyond three, where do you cite those? when you look at alaska we've had the conversation about potentials in kodiak, some challenges with water depth, limited pier space. but was there a conversation about medium breakers? different water depths? might be a different conversation there. you've talked about sewer before. i think there's conversation there. something like the healy, that is 145 crew members. you've been very generous, the committee here on support for housing in kodiak and three phases through the wire on funding with the committee's support. we'd have to have a similar kind of lift to do something in seward in terms of the soft support. then we look at the maintenance support for a ship like that. the healy now coming in, approaches the 25-year mark. i think there is a conversation sir that aligned with your interest when we broaden that conversation beyond the three polar security cutters and we're committed to continue the dialogue and keep an open mind on that. >> right. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, madame chair.
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>> thank you. master chief, i recently traveled to the coast guard station in surgeon bay, wisconsin. and met with the crew on the coast guard icebreaker mobile bay. and it was very clear to me that ice breaking and buoy tending are both very hard work. while that mission will never be easy it seems to me that there are opportunities to make life a little bit easier for coast guard members and their families. so i'm going to touch upon the housing issue as well as a few others. in addition to career development and training i heard from coast guard members and their families stationed in surgeon bay, wisconsin about the challenges with their aging facilities which i will add were originally built in 1886 when it
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was still called the u.s. life saving service. and also the lack of child care availability and the difficulty in finding housing. one coast guard member who was recently assigned there said that she camped for most of the summer with her children. they enjoyed it but they won't in the wisconsin winters. and a place like sturgeon bay where the existing housing stock is quite expensive because it is also located within an area of lots of tourism that people enjoy that area. this is an issue coast guard wise not just on the great lakes. i'm sure it's apparent on alaska and both salty coasts. i am working hard to secure funding to rebuild stations like sturgeon bay in the reconciliation package. but i wonder if you can talk a
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little bit about the basic allowance for housing. the basic allowance for housing bah is often not sufficient to cover the costs of rent or mortgage. and it seems to me that that model is really designed for the department of defense and isn't working for many coast guard families. have you observed members struggling to afford housing? and what do you think can be done to address these challenges? >> well, thank you very much. master chief olson said he really enjoyed your visit. he got a lot out of that and the crew really appreciated your attention to them. and then the mobile bay same thing. i was kind of on your heels a little bit for that trip and they loved it. that station is amazing, old life saving station. they've kept it together with
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bailing wire and bubble gum and done a great job and continue to do great operations out of there and are grateful for your support and are getting some funding to update that station. the dod funds at 95% of actual costs for military housing area and is the one that can really move the needle where there is a lot of dod they, if they're not collecting data where you are it won't work for you. we're doing a really fine look at the military housing area and our policy of how we draw our military housing areas and then where we can, if there is a neighborhood that is potentially not where we would want our folks to live that we can exclude we're looking at exclusion zones. keefrnd, you know, of all the bad things of covid this was one
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that really caused us to stop and take a look and say, wow. housing costs really went up. our housing office has been thoroughly examining every military housing area. now the interesting thing about the great lakes is there is something called the cost county area. some of them are not -- not derived by a military housing area but by the county and it has to do with other statistics. i'm not sure exactly how it is done. we are looking at every housing. i met with my service senior enlisted and they are committed, dod personnel and readiness committed to really fine tuning their data collection and they've increased the bah in 56 military housing areas narrowly this year -- prelim narly this year. they are optimistic the data
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will show we need to raise the bah. sometimes i can give you all the money in the world you want but if there is no inventory it won't help you. it sounds like in sturgeon bay that was the case. it didn't matter what your housing allowance was. we need to work on perhaps government leases, perhaps even working with community leaders. in seward i visited and the governor is working with some of the builders to say hey we've got coastes here. they need to live here and will be here a long time why don't we build apartment complexes and condos and we can almost guarantee they'll occupy those and it will be a win-win for everybody. we're working with local elected leaders to try to increase inventory in these areas and we are committed to trying to help our people and really admiral shultz directed our budget folks to divert some funds into our housing office so we can get after some more government
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leases. i appreciate your support and we are looking at every option to try and help our folks. >> thanks, madame chair. between the chair and myself, you'll see really strong support on the housing issue. i just wanted to end this hearing and thanks again for the testimony. two quick questions. admiral, one for you as you know we recently passed legislation making it easier for vessels home ported in alaska and other places to contract repairs in the local ship yards. that is an issue for us. i'm pretty sure it is an issue in wisconsin as well. i recently had a meeting with some of your senior staff voicing concerns over the lack of utilization of that new legislation. it was a constructive meeting so i don't want to be complaining here. the vision i think you know and we have talked about it which makes sense all around for the
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local economies, for the coast guard, because you would save money as opposed to sending ships for heavy work to alameda and other places. you could do it locally and crews would be closer to home ports. do you have any updates? i know you know it is a priority. we got the law changed working with your staff to help us on the language but any updates on that, sir? >> yes, sir. i know you and i have worked in this for a long time. we got to the place and then some of the timing with when they want to do the fishing fleet, the timing of us, us operating on a one-year budget cycle and we've ceded the first quarter of the fiscal year because of the uncertainty with annual appropriations. we try to pack a lot of work into the second half of the year. we have two-year ability for 4 x maintenance funds. that was very helpful and have to continue to renew that. so we are looking at four
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potential ship contracts that could be done in alaska in 2022. >> oh, good >> i think there are some opportunities to continue to work and make sure your staff is up to speed. i think there is a possibility we could steer some of that work to a ship yard up there. there is obviously just the timing of when our ships come up and the budgets. there is the availability of the ship yard to do that kind of work. we understand the intent and i think we are committed to trying to still get a successful outcome here where, you know, from our crews, you know, you send men and women to sea for some portion of 185 days a year, you know, being down somewhere in the lower 48 just is a tougher challenge in terms of quality of life and family. generally summer months, kids are out of school, sailing a lot. there are definite upsides when we can do the work closer at home. >> the admirals i have talked to in district 17 think it is a significant cost saver for the coast guard too. i look forward to working with you and continuing to work with you on that. we made good progress.
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i was happy to hear you say in your opening testimony morale is high. and that you strategically visited wisconsin and alaska before this hearing. that is really good staff work whoever made that happen. my question for you, just a general one, in your travels both to wisconsin and alaska and beyond you are the senior enlisted for the whole service. what were you hearing that were good things? you say morale is high. why is it high? what are the problem issues keeping the coast guard men and women up at night and their families. we want to be sure we're taking care of the families as well. >> thank you both. so morale is high because the people love what they do. they have a very rewarding mission. we empower our junior members to make a difference as i go around and you probably when they put people, younger, the young folks
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that are the ones that are being recognized because they're just doing tremendous work. so i think there is a sense of pride and the knowledge that they're making a difference the minute they show up at their unit. that is the good thing. the challenge, so our computer systems and in some of our technology we haven't been able to make investments in, our servers are max capacity and thanks to support pr this -- from this committee. it is kind of funny they don't have any problem communicating on their personal devices but when they try to log on to our work station software programs and things they are just difficult and difficult in wisconsin and alaska particularly because of the band
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width challenges and things like that. we are really making a significant and committed investment to improve our computer systems trying to increase efficiency so if our folks go out and do a boarding they'll have mobility where they can, they're not just handwriting things anymore. they are typing into a tablet and coming back and uploading that information instead of having to write everything out and come back. that is the biggest thing we can do to help our people right now. they know it is out there. we just haven't been able to get it to them. >> thank you. >> i think it's the enabling things. the housing, child care, you know, we have ten cdcs across the coast guard thinking about infrastructure. we're looking as we go big in seattle and charleston we clearly want to upgrade facilities, build new facilities. i think in the interim periods going from up about $13 million,
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you include where we hope to come out of the 2022 budget for child care subsidies it allows us to drive down some of the immediate needs. there is a lot of uncertainty. so the housing costs have never been more challenging. some of the temporal relief through the end of december go in and make the business case and show your costs. those are on people's minds. we are in an environment now as of 1 january 2018 and this new blended retirement. maybe not a 2021 conversation but you fast forward a young coast guard man or woman or dual military couple paying themselves first they get to that 12-year point and the last move they had was very difficult. a lot of out of pocket expenses. you know, having a hard time finding child care and someone says hey you're kind of a skilled american. why don't you come join my team? i see what shultz is paying and they go down the table of years and offer you a $30,000 increase in pay, you can stay put, it as competitive place. all of those enabling functionalities where the congress can continue to help. people love their work. people love being on the coast
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guard team. we got challenges and we're working those challenges. it is the enabling things that allow us to compete and keep the coast guard an attractive place to work. it is going to get increasingly more important. i say to folks the biggest challenge facing our organization for the 27th, 28th, will be talent management and human capital retention. >> keep us posted on those legislatively or just administratively. a couple years back the dod, back of the line on the cdc. i was like, are you kidding me? so those are the kind of things keep us posted on. we want to make sure. >> our dod partners have been great. we're working better than we ever have before. thanks for helping us. >> absolutely. >> i understand senator blackburn has joined us remotely. let me see if that is still the case. >> yes. i am here.
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one thing really admiral shultz coming to you we have recently celebrated the commissioning of the coast guard station in memphis and we are certainly looking forward to that. and would love to hear from you on the record. people in memphis are really thankful and excited about this. and i think it speaks to the growth of the mission of the coast guard. but for the record i would love to hear from you. what is your expectation for that facility and for their ability to serve the coast guard in the future? >> senator, good to see you and thanks for your continued support of the men and women in uniform and all the armed services. we turned the operations, the boat operations from a boat house into a station. the station means you have an officer in charge and that is a position that goes with broader
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authorities and i think that allows us to better address the maritime challenges whether that is search and rescue on the river way system there, whether that is responding to security, hazardous material trans its, waterways challenges, there's always different things that impact the waterways and heartland region there. i think actually designating that as a station and giving, you know, a first class petty officer leads that station giving him or her the requisite authorities is a better operation than we had before. sort of a boat forces operation with less clear construct on what authorities -- i think it is cleaner for the partners in the region and i think we'll be more effective as a coast guard there because of this change, ma'am >> i think there are plenty of people in support of memphis and agree with you and they -- plenty of people at the port of memphis that agree with you and very hopeful for what this new station will bring their way.
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one other question i have as i've listened to some of senator sullivan's questions and the conversation that ensued. this would be pore either of you. as we look at great power competition and as we look at how things -- how we address the arctic governance, is there any aspect or any area where our interests align with china and russia? >> senator, i would say, you know, the senator kind of chuckled and talked about self-declared nation when he mentioned china's interest in the argument. china had one research vessel they got from the ukrainians, built the second one in china, now building heavy breakers whatever that means, even entertained the conversation with nuclear breakers. we have to pay attention to what is china's interest in the arctic. we've seen them up off the
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alaska arctic for 8 of the last 12 years. arguably they are down there surveying where we have undersea cables and paying attention to fifth generation fighters, clearly interested in the trillion dollars of minerals on the ocean's floor, shallow water access to energy, 13%, 15% of the untapped petroleum in the world. third of the o & g. i look at china over in the partnership with russia on energy and you look at all of the economic benefit that russia is deriving about 25% of their gdp from arctic activities, militarized in the arctic. with russia, russia chairs the arctic council right now and took over in the spring and also chair the arctic coast guard forum. things like sailing the healy through the northwest pass is a demonstration of our ability to partner with canada. we pushed it over to green and then collaborate with the danes, the french.
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i met last night with the danes, nor norwegianans earlier in the day. we are absolutely, you know, partnering with the other seven arctic nations including russia. we need to have a constructive dialogue there but i think we have to pay attention to intentions. we want the arctic to remain a safe, secure, environmentally sound location where they have the environmental mess with the permafrost, you know, causing the structure to fail and spread oil across seven, eight miles of water. we offered to help. i think we'll continue to stay on the high ground and be a good environmental partner but we also have to pay attention to what people say and do. i think there is a gap there between the audio and the video sometimes. we need to call that out as appropriate. >> thank you. i appreciate that. i think it is fair to say that as you mentioned russia and other partner nations, there are some aligned interests there but more of an adversarial tone as we look at china. thank you all very much. >> thank you, senator.
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i kind of try to use the term competitive and avoid adversarial but there is not a lot of space between the two terms sometimes. >> got it. thank you. thank you. our rounds of questioning have come to a close. the hearing record will remain open for two weeks until november 2nd. and any senators who would like to submit questions for the record should do so by november 2nd. we ask that your responses be returned to the committee as quickly as possible and in no case later than two weeks after receipt. that concludes today's hearing. thank you again.
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[ background discussion ]
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buckeye broadband supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers giving you a front row seat to democracy. on thursday attorney general merrick garland testifies on the justice department's mission and policies before the house judiciary committee. we're covering it live beginning at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3. online at or on our new video app, c-span now. >> keith richburg has been a print journalist almost his entire adult life. originally from detroit, michigan, he worked for "the washington post" for 30 years. his assignments included four years in southeast asia from 1986 to 1990.
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africa for three years. then five years in hong kong. a time as new york city bureau chief from 2007 to 2010. richburg also is based for "the washington post" in paris. later as china correspondent. in addition, he had his time in afghanistan and iraq. keith richburg is currently the director of the university of hong kong journalism and media studies center. we asked him to talk about his work. >> keith richburg, on this week's episode of book notes plus. you can listen to book notes plus and all of our podcasts on our new c-span now app. >> a senate commerce science and transportation subcommittee heard testimony from francis haugen a facebook whistle-blower about her experience at the social media company and how best to protect children online with privacy regulations. this hearing is about three


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