The U.S. Coast Guard Spent $7 Billion and Has Two Ships to Show for It

10 years ago, the Coast Guard was guaranteed $17 billion dollars to purchase or re-outfit 250 ships over a period of 25 years. After spending $7 billion, there are two completed ships. There are supposed to be at least eight.

According to the AP, blunders by contractors have pushed the estimated budget up to $24.2 billion. Most of the current $7 billion is tied up in contracts for improvements to 24 exisiting ships and 10 future ships that have yet to be built. Besides the two that are already completed, two more are in progress.

By now the Coast Guard was supposed to have at least eight new ships — four 418-foot national security cutters and four 154-foot cutters — either in the water or about to be delivered. Instead it has only two of the largest ships already in use, with two ships more on the way.

LoBiondo and others in Congress, including Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, repeatedly have questioned the progress and scope of the fleet overhaul.

Government auditors have concluded that the Coast Guard still doesn't know the answers to those questions.

At this rate, the Coast Guard will have spent $18 billion and might have 90 ships to show for it by the time 25 years has passed. Maybe. Squeezing another 160 usable ships out of $6 billion sounds like a damn miracle. But at least they're aware of their incompetence.

"I'll be the first to admit, we weren't prepared to start spending this money and supervising a project this big," said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp.

Don't you love bureacracy at work? [AP]