U.S. Coast Guard Releases Draft RFP for River Buoy and Inland Construction Tenders

The U.S. Coast Guard released a draft request for proposal (RFP) on July 29 for detailed design and construction of the river buoy and inland construction tenders as part of its Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) acquisition program.

The deadline to submit feedback on thedraft RFPis Sept. 18, 2020.

The Coast Guard is recapitalizing its 35 river, construction and inland buoy tenders, which collectively average more than 55 years in service. The fleet is responsible for maintaining more than 28,200 marine aids throughout 12,000 miles of inland waterways, facilitating the movement of 630 million tons of cargo annually.

There are currently 18 river buoy tenders and 13 construction tenders in the inland tender fleet. Based on extensive analysis of mission needs, the Coast Guard plans to replace these ships with newly designed river buoy tenders and construction tenders that have greater endurance, speed and deck load capacity than their predecessors. The Coast Guard plans to acquire these two variants on the same contract due to major design commonality including hull form, deck layout and standardized equipment. The inland buoy tender replacements will be acquired separately.

Replacing the aging fleet is critical to sustaining the overall safety of the U.S. Marine Transportation System, which accounts for $5.4 trillion of economic activity annually and sustains approximately 30.7 million jobs.

USCG Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) program

The Coast Guard established the WCC program to replace the capability provided by its current inland tender fleet which includes 18 river buoy tenders (WLR), 13 inland construction tenders (WLIC) and 4 inland buoy tender (WLI).

With the program, the USCG is planning for three classes of monohull vessels, meaning self-propelled cutters instead of tug and barge combinations. The configurations of these classes are expected to be identical except for their hull lengths, bow shapes, working deck layouts and deck equipment, including cranes designed for their mission set.

The WCC program is working under a heavily accelerated program schedule to reach initial operational capability by fiscal year 2024 and full operational capability by fiscal year 2030.

USCGC Greenbrier (WLR-75501)
USCGC Greenbrier (WLR-75501), a Kankakee class 75-foot river buoy tender of the U.S. Coast Guard.
USCGC Elderberry (WLI-65401)
Crew members aboard USCGC Elderberry (WLI-65401), a U.S. Coast Guard 65-foot inland buoy tender homeported in Petersburg, Alaska, prepare buoys to be set in the channel which runs through Mendenhall Bar. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Walter Shinn)
USCGC Smilax (WLIC-315)
USCGC Smilax (WLIC-315), a 100-foot (30 m) Cosmos-class inland construction tender of the United States Coast Guard, commissioned in 1944. Smilax is the “Queen of the Fleet”, as the oldest commissioned U.S. Coast Guard cutter.