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tv   Coast Guard Officials Testify at Oversight Hearing  CSPAN  December 1, 2021 8:43pm-10:22pm EST

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>> they answered questions on a variety of topics, including the october 2nd oil spill off the coast of california. vaccine mandates -- diversity and inclusion within the service, and maritime security.
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oversight hearing. members of the senate subcommittee will be hearing from coast guard commandant >> call the subcommittee to order. i want to thank you for attending this afternoon's hearing for the coast guard. it is an honor to take the time to, in the oceans and great lakes subsidies to hold this important hearing. this committee, and the senator 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
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protecting against the impact of climate change through the build back better budget. nfrastructand finally, what is y underway on drafting the next coast guard operation bill. the administration budget request 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 dollars requested for the coast guard, 1.6 billion is included for procurement, construction and improvement accounts. i will be interested to hear from you on whether this funding level is sufficient to support one of the largest acquisition periods in coast guard history, which includes programs like the offshore patrol qatar and the patrol security qatar.
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unfortunately, this budget request is not adequately plan or budget for the impacts of climate change, particularly for construction of coast guard facilities that have long been under funded and are in need of replacement due to the effects of climate change. this concern also extends to the fact that the budget does not include funding for an additional great lakes icebreaker. increasing icebreaking capacity on the great lakes is critical to facilitating commerce and transportation in winter months. and icebreakers also 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 by america policies. i am discouraged by the direction the coast guard is taking on procuring critical
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components like engines and ship board service diesel dan generators on programs like the polar security qatar. -- health of the american supplier, our industrial base and the total cost associated. this will continue to be a priority for me as chair. finally, while the u.s. coast guard has made memorable progress in areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, women make up only 23% of the officer corps and -- percent of the enlisted workforce. i will be interested to hear about the progress on including women and ethnic and racial diversity within the coast guard. -- ensuring we are conducting oversight on coast guard issues, from acquisitions to personnel issues, including diversity and
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support for women and families. accordingly, today's hearing will be a little different. we will hear testimony from both the commandant and the master chief petty officer of the coast guard, master chief vanderhaden. 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, it's people. thank you both for being here today. with that, i will handed over to a great advocate for the coast guard and a great colleague, ranking member sullivan. >> well, i want to begin by thanking cher baldwin and congratulating you, my colleague, on the chairman ship. i look forward to working with you again, as we have, as chair and ranking, in past conferences. so, thank you. i think we are off to a great start. i want to thank our two
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distinguished witnesses today, the commandant of the united states coast guard and master chief petty officer. thank you and thank you to the men and women you are privileged to lead. congress has given the coast guard a wide range of missions, from search and rescue, icebreaking, marine environmental protection, for security, drug interdiction, international crisis response and readiness to support department of defense operations. maritime security and 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 to 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
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subcommittee in the 116 congress, we held, i think seven hearings on the coast guard, its work it does day in and day out. so, other members of the senate and the american people can get a better sense that the work that you and the members of the coast guard do for our country. many hearings have focused the coast guard's efforts in alaska. with more coastline than the rest of the country combined in a large portion of our oceans 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 that congress has made significant progress in this area. we have authorized six polar
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security cutters. two of which are now fully funded and we are working to fully fund a third. we have invested over 513 million dollars for coast guard infrastructure in alaska and we continue to fund new classes of vessels, all of which will aid in the coast guard mission, weather in the arctic or great lakes, or projecting power across the globe. i have a couple of slides here. -- from an area isolated to what is now clearly referred to as a 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 icebreakers, while china has -- is building their fourth.
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they claim they are near arctic nation, whatever the heck that means, because they're not that close to the arctic. russia, in addition to over 50 icebreakers, as open 16 deepwater ports, 14 airfields, built arctic military bases and even formed a new arctic northern command, all in the arctic region. vladimir putin has called the northern sea route, the next, quote, suez canal in terms of its importance for shipping. and has threatened to sink any foreign vessels that do not have a russian pilot aboard or russian escort vessel. we have seen u.s. fishing vessels legally fishing in our own easy forced out of our own one eez of our own what -- we have also observe chinese warships off of our alaskan
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coast. without persistent u.s. presence, we risk leaving an opening for these type of aggressive actions to continue from these two countries in particular. this next graphic depicts the arctic and shows the two prominent opening sea routes. because of the receding sea ice. the north northwest passage and northern sea route. it's 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's arctic strategy says, 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. motei could not agree more.
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it is foolish to think, however, that the u.s. is currently able to 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 at closing this gap with the leadership represented here today, with consistent deployment to the bering sea. win updates to shore facilities and ensuring robust partnerships in the region. i was happy to see the current success of the -- transit through the northwest passage. these demonstrate our ability to operate in the region and our commitment to a free and open arctic. these operations must not only continue, but i believe, must increase. that is one of the reasons why i will soon be introducing legislation to increase the influence and capabilities of
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our united states coast guard in the arctic to persistent presence in that critical region. without further investment in our poll 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 enforcing 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. >> well, 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 vanderhaden.
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we will include your full testimony in the record. so please, try to keep your remarks to five minutes. >> madam chair, ranking member sullivan, it's an honor for the master chief and i to appear before you today. before two great advocates them for the coast guard and for the missions that we do across the globe. we remain keenly focused on the lines of effort mapped out in our 2018 to 2022 strategic plan. those are, first, maximizing readiness, addressing the nation's complex maritime challenges and delivering mission excellence anytime, anywhere. let me start by thanking the committee for your support of the coast guard in our efforts to tackle these priorities. the fiscal year 2021 consolidated appropriations act help sustain critical momentum, specifically noting attention to coast guard service and
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aviation fleet re-capitalization, the injection of much-needed funding to address our aging shore infrastructure, and information technology and essential investments in our workforce. building off of this momentum, the fiscal year 2022 presidents budget requests these same readiness priorities, as we look to provide our workforce with the assets, the infrastructure and modern systems they need to conduct operations to meet current and future demands. to close the readiness gap, we need sustained operations and support budget growth of about three to 5% on an annual basis. with your support, we continue to build the nation's first heavy polar icebreakers and nearly half a century, completing the polar security program of record will provide the global reach and capability necessary to ensure operations in the polar regions. the polish security cutters will enable the united states to project sovereignty, counter more line actors and respond
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new mission demands caused by receding ice. continued progress on the offshore cutter programs, as these will replace our medium insurance cutters, which have served with distinction but have -- for many decades. yet, they are becoming increasingly expensive. despite herculean maintenance efforts, this fleet of endurance efforts has lost roughly 11% of operational capacity over the past two years. and that is a degradation of frontline performance. i am increasingly concerned about our ability to sustain operations with our legacy rotary wing, as 65 dolphin parts are increasingly hard to locate. to meet today standards for both energy efficiency and resilience, we must update our shore facilities. the fiscal year 2021 appropriation provided
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substantial support and a 2022 budget request makes important progress in this infrastructure. we must also keep pace with technological advances, including those confronting marine transportation, a key economic for a nation that generates 5.6 trillion dollars of economic activity and supports more than 30 million jobs. nawe must ensure safety, securiy and reliability. today, our service remains an inflection point, with respect to service readiness. modern assets will help close the readiness gap and enable our workforce to focus their efforts on operations in the solving of complex problems to deliver mission performance. on top of the day to day operations across our mission portfolio, the coast guard is increasingly called upon to respond to events and accidents, and new mission demands created by climate change have major impacts on our nation. between the years 2015 and 2020,
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the coast guard surge surged personnel and assets related to hurricanes and tropical storms. well along with wildfires, emergencies at the southwest border, support to the bahamas, and this past summer's earthquake in haiti and other operations. our complex mission makes it critical that we harness the full power of background, experience and imagination of every member of our coast guard. workforce nd, experience, and imagination of every member of our coast guard work to be of service and requests the american public we are honored to serve. we must position our selves to be -- in a highly competitive marketplace. i cannot be more proud of our coast guard men and women both at home and abroad,
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particularly against the backdrop of the ongoing global pandemic. they stood to watch with both peak professionalism, and unmatched resilience. with your continued support, we will remain always ready. thank you very much, i look forward to your questions. >> no master chief vendor haven. >> thank you. just coincidentally, i last few trips were to alaska and wisconsin. so, i feel like i have something good in front of you. i want to join admiral on -- to restore service readiness. we are an armed force of the united states, and the enforcement agency, and we are a maritime safety and right dilatory agency. the men and women that i represent today truly make up the finest course guard in the world. our dedicated coast guard members are on the front lines
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every day, carrying out operations globally and protecting our homeland, maritime domain from constantly and folding threats. -- with the full knowledge that their housing, health and family are well taken care of. i am extremely proud of the entire coast guard workforce 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 workforce understands the importance of their service to the nation and the challenges we must overcome. the current challenge i am most concerned about our ability to retain the workforce needed to operate our aircraft, as we replace our aging asset, the new cutters, helicopters, and the planes being built to require us to grow our workforce now so that we are prepared to operate and maintain these technologically advanced resources when they arrive. although today we --
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have all the military services, we will need to retain future workforce at an even higher rate to meet the increasing demand both domestically and abroad. coast guard leadership is taking a proactive approach to implement, and improving our retention by analyzing, a value waiting, and mitigating the causes that may lead members to leave our service early. we have contracted without site agencies for several studies to provide the coast guard with recommendation to remove retention barriers and to provide a better [inaudible] to our members. based on these recommendations, we implemented several workforce and 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 maybe are using. we also updated our parental leave policy to allow for 120 days of lee for any primary caregiver and created a program
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where they can be called after duty to -- when they go on prenatal and maternity, and primary caregiver leave. these updates definitely and hands the quality of life for our members while maintaining our high standards of readiness, policy changes are just one avenue to improve retention. the policy change alone is not enough to retain our best and brightest. we have 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 workforce, to demonstrate our commitment and good leadership. we completely changed our advancement process, the -- and this new process includes a panel that conduct a thorough review of our members records with an emphasis on selecting proving leaders who exemplify our core values of owner, and -- we have also stepped up our leadership game by expanding the ability of mentoring.
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we recently launched a new mentoring program that connects mentors and mentees to one-on-one mentoring on a global basis. this industry proven 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 advice on insight to better manage their careers. i recently spoke to the chief in the air post, they are using the same mentoring program. i think we hit a home run on this. one as we build the coast guard workforce of the future, we recognize the importance, the important imperative to be an employer that reflects the public we serve. this summer, the corporation finalize they studied to identify barriers and recruit -- of unrepresented racial minorities in the workforce.
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we are already implementing initiative to ensure members of underrepresented minority groups can thrive in -- and we are excited to roll out these vital improvements. your coast guard is hard at work to attract a talented and diverse workforce, and i appreciate this committee's commitment to create a coast guard ready to commit and protect america's maritime domain. thank you for inviting me to testify today, and i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you! i want to start this round of questions by talking about the -- climate change does not mean the end of cold winters in the great lakes. in fact, three of the worst great lakes a seasons of the last several decades have occurred in the last seven years. by one estimate, these three winters cost our region's economy approximately two billion dollars with 10,000
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jobs lost due to reductions in maritime commerce, resulting impacts on 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 collect and rivers to form ice dams. our communities rely on coast guard icebreakers to break this up and prevent flooding in our communities. transportation to saving lives and property from flooding, we need more icebreakers. that is why i am fighting for a new great lakes eggs breaker to be funded in our current budget reconciliation bill. admiral, do you support funding for the great lakes icebreakers in your package? >> absolutely.
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i support that. >> great. i appreciate your support, admiral. during the lake michigan ice jam, it caused flooding last winter, the coast guard's only great lakes heavy icebreaker was not available. smaller icebreaking cutters struggled to break through that ice. while the coast guard eventually accomplished their mission with the current acids, it is a second heavy icebreaker that would have been available, that coast guard could have provided more literally more quickly. would you agree? >> i do not have all the specifics around thought. i would say clearly more capacity in a bigger breaker, than a small breaker. that is common sense. depending what is going on at the time, we can find one breaker in one part of the great lakes. i think additional capacity,
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additional heavy capacity, a capability is probably on a positive there. it could lead to better outcomes, yes. >> thank you, admiral. now i want to turn to the importance of these policies. costs for major programs like shipbuilding are only a part of the 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 have also seen complications arising from the disruption in supply chains when foreign sources are involved. with nearly all of the coast guard's assets undergoing transitions to new platforms, this is really an opportunity to assess how the coast guard is making acquisition decisions with total life cycle cost and
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helping the domestic industrial base in mind. -- critical components have resulted in, or are likely to result in more money being spent to support components that might have been saved in initial acquisition. i am concerned that recent decisions of components for the poor security qatar are heading down the same path. would you be willing to working with me and ensure that your acquisition plan, take into consideration these higher -- and, recognize the value and importance of our domestic industrial face? >> let me start in the reverse order of your question. to your last point, we absolutely recognize and support the united states industrial base. specifically with respect to the polish security qatar. we will certainly explore the ability to support the
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engineering and the major components through the life cycle cost. we do believe the plan we have, with the mock engines, you know, that have already been perfect chest -- we will have sufficient engines through the buildings of -- a 30 year plan to support these engines. given the complexity of the build and how that ship is built around those engines, it would be a very difficult stage we are talking about revisiting that decision. if we are talking about other places, and other -- possibly medium breakers, the great lake icebreakers, i think that is a conversation. it is a difficult conversation, the worry would actually slip the delivery date, but that is some part injected in the fact that we have not built an icebreaker in a half century. the covid complications. the international collaboration that didn't lend itself to zoom, it is a face to face, we are trying to do a very ambitious
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program of building heavy icebreakers, and we haven't done so in 50 years in a compressed timeline. i think that decision would be very difficult to reopen at this point without tremendously -- and i believe there is a support system for -- very much established. a broader case to your question, yes. not specific, one i think it is a little bit more of a challenging conversation to open up. >> thank you madam chair. unreal, i want to begin the discussion of talking about fishing. that is not simply illegal fishing, it is a resource problem, a security problem, it is 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
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as it relates to the chinese, communist party. and, the chinese fleets that are literally scouring the world and often trying to hide their eye you you involvement. can you give me an update on with the coast guard is doing? and are there things that we can do, we the congress, to bolster the coast guard's 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 are going to be working on legislation, but we certainly want the coast guard in. >> thank you for your question. iuu, the legal and unreported fishing, it is a global challenge. i was in newport with the world coast guard in 2018, that was an epiphany for me as services and many of the worlds -- look like the coast guard.
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i was bombarded with questions about how do we work together on this? >> other countries need our help. >> yes sir. they want to talk about fish. i was back there this fall for that again. the psychological damages, coastal states their resources are harvested. those benefits do not get back to the coastal nations, they make it now to a -- sustainable fishery, it is a food sustainment issue. you look at the rise, the projected growth, population wise 40% of the proteins arrive from the ocean there. this is a global problem. would we have done in 2020, in september, we issued what we call a ten-year strategic outlook. this is -- we do not have the capacity for that. we are trying to take a lead role to stitch together like-minded thinkers, like-minded nations who need to partner with ngo, with academia,
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there is a lot of capabilities out there. we need to figure out how we share information, and how we illuminate. that we look at the east and west coast of the african continent, of south america, we saw 350 china flags and or china characteristics maybe south american flags that are in opaque processes. they identified at least a couple dozen vessels that were there, automated information system did not correlate with the position to see the same challenges. so i think that we can do is elevate that. i think what -- is articulate the importance of this, as i mentioned before, i think it is about collaborating. i think when i go back to just the projected informations, that study growth for the coast guard allows us to attenuated this on a global scale. it is a big bite we are taking out, so we bring a voice to credibility to. that what we want to do is take a nation like china, we say do
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not send your vessels 900 miles away and have no coast guard, or try to hide what you are doing. >> we look forward to working with you on this. there is a lot of bipartisan support for this kind of action in the senate, and we will be reaching out to you and your team on next steps in terms of legislation. i mentioned in my opening statement, the issue of monitoring foreign military exercises. you know that massive russian exercise and the american alaskan ev in 2019, it was quite disturbing. what have you done, what has the coast guard done in terms of lessons learned from that, do you think there was 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 lessons learned,
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and what is the coast guard's plan to protect u.s. fishing fleet if similar events were to occur in the future? yes sir. i would say yes there are things we learned. the russians as a nation have the right to -- >> they do not have the right to -- >> they issued what is called the hydro, line which is what they are supposed to. do we realized between the fishing community and that product for advanced knowing what your, doing there is some communication. there we are working that middle space. i think at that point on an educated crowd up there that is legitimately fishing has the right. it was a function of people -- >> you are not this merging the fleet, you are saying -- >> i am saying because they didn't know, i think they got caught up in the situation where hate, they thought they would be muscled out of, there
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and they would. had their system worked, and they have been educated, hopefully they would not have chosen to fish in that area. that said, we need to recognize the rights of the alaskan fishing, and that they're operating and fishing it where they didn't do the correct notifications, i think some of that is a presence conversation, i think that we need to actively, it is how we ensure a hydro and actually gets in the hand of an alaskan fishermen. so, we want to try to avoid that tension point and again, i'm not saying what russia is or isn't, doing i'm saying they didn't do anything that was internationally in violation. it was a breakdown in process, we have tried to walk that back and address that going forward. hopefully it does not repeat itself. >> good, thank you. >> senator blumenthal. >> thank, you and welcome to both of our witnesses today. thank you to your service to our nation, and your commitment to the coast guard.
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i just want to make sure that i know the answer to this question, i think i do. the coast guard is a continuing priority, they work with us and are seeking additional funds, correct? >> senator, i am absolutely committed to establishing the national coast guard museum. we are working with the association, yourself and your center counterparts. >> thank you. i have been disturbed by reports that i have seen recently about merchant marine cadets who have been victims of sexual assault while at sea. i realize the 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 what you have seen, an increase in the numbers of reports? were you disturbed by any
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report of sexual assault? this problem has been increasing in number of incidents reported? >> senator blumenthal, to think about someone whether it is a member of our naval services, or -- would be sexually assaulted at sea. i take offense to it. we have had less than ten cases over the last ten years. it has actually been five cases. it is not a lot of cases that are making it to the coast guard. we have investigated each of those five referred to the u.s. attorney's office. we have one case where we went after an organization, it shipment company that did not notify. i suspect there is probably a gap there between actual behaviors occurring at sea, and the amount of reporting. so, i think there is some opportunities to work collaboratively with department of transportation, and shipping companies to make sure that these terrible actions are
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being reported, but we stand posture to action with the coast guard investigative services. what is difficult as you see these ships at sea, rotation of crew, things about gathering, getting to the ship, there is a lot of complexity. that said, i think it is an area where we all need to do better. i think clearly prevention is the most important part of this, and 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 and august -- it found a need for more diversity, equity, and inclusion. i wonder if you could update us to the progress on recommendations on development
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and recommendations on the coast guard. >> we are absolutely committed. we did a holistic woman study in previous years, we closed retention gaps, my first year in office we created a task force, studies were not just -- there were actually things that we would maintain into the fourth year of this to action the european study and specific. we are going to go down every specific recommendation. we have invested about 600,000 dni initiatives back around 2017 to 12 million dollars right now. we are serious about this. i go back to my statement about being a nation that served by a coast guard that is more represented --
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we have got to get this. right it is absolutely my -- >> and, i am assuming that the commitment extends to the coast guard academy and outreach in recruitment as well as working towards inclusion. guard academy and>> absolutely,e class of 2020, five it is 40% women, 38% underrepresented minorities. we have the highest both women and under representative of any academies. we were driving towards a 50% reflexive for women's, we are driving towards -- about five and a half or 6%, we need to drive that closer to 11 or 12% that represents society with -- so we are trying to recruit in different places. we have five new recruiting officers to get to places we have not yet recruited, and we absolutely want to make our academy really not just a service academy in, part but
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every coast guard officer that commission goes to. that is a touch point we want to make sure that they are educated leaders, that they have an open mind, that they leave the fleet with no biases, no unconscious biases, and they want to be a tremendous contributors to our coast guard going forward. >> thank, you thank you very much. >> next, on a call on member of the full committee, senator wicker. >> thank you. thank you admiral schultz for pointing out the coast guard academy leads all of the sanctions of service academy in terms of diversity you are not where you want and where you would like to be, in terms of the academy or further down the road towards accomplishment than anyone else. some say the diversity have not translated to the enlisted ranks.
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with institutions such as -- like community 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 study mentioned? i will start with you chief. >> thank you, sir i appreciate it. we are grateful for all of the support that we get from the committee. you gave us the opportunity to bring us new recruiters this year. we are expanding our junior rotc programs. we had one junior rotc program. through his support, and the support for the resources we have, god we have been able to expand that program. so, i think we are going to do
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a better job of getting into these high schools. and start to tell the coast guard story. i visited with some of our members, they say that the coast guard is the best kept secret. we do not want to be the best kept secret, we want to be well-known. so, we are doing a lot better of the better job telling our story, we are grateful for this. community colleges are a great place to attract folks not perhaps, might use some help from the gi bill. we are grateful for any support that we can get. you are giving us the ability to also get more folks. this year's budget looks really good for being able to build out our training center, our boot camp, so that we can get more folks through. that is going to be critically important. then, the training centers as well. you have given us the opportunity of improving quality of life at the stations, which helps us retain folks. so, i am grateful and i wish i had another year of service, because i think we are going to
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eat into this pretty good and we are going to make a difference here soon. thank you. >> i am glad to hear that you are enthusiastic about junior rotc. i am an rotc graduate myself. actually, the rand corporation has also done extensive studies about the effectiveness of tehran city. it is way more than a recruitment for the military for the coast guard. it is a way for a subset of a high school to do better than their peers. to graduate at a higher rate, and to do better upon graduation. to hear him mention it in a favorable light, it is absolutely music to my ears.
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i can tell you, senator sullivan and i, and others on the services committee have done our best to help fund more opportunities. i have never found a superintendent or principle that did not respond favorably when i asked how this is at their, school or would you like one at your school? they all say yes. that is encouraging. rather than ship to you on that question, let me just ask. senator sullivan has been showing off the coast guard in alaska. the best way to understand it is to go there, and he took me all over the place from north to south, we went to kodiak, and there was a refuelling there by the coast guard.
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the refuel cutters. on more than one occasion the coast guard has had to stop using the pier for fueling operations that put excessive strain on his structural integrity. is this an isolated example or what are the sorts of operational safety hazards that they face? and, what's in the world are we going to do about this three billion dollar backlog? >> thank you. >> you've got two seconds -- >> two seconds, yes, we are going to do something about it. >> [laughs] >> two billion for the -- backlog >> two billion -- >> kodiak needs to be replaced. it's been a very effective tool. and members on both sides of the aisle have championed this, allowing us to get at this thing. so we do have challenges.
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what we will continue to do is -- it's part of the readiness. we provide the nation with a service. we need to get after all the challenges. you have my commitment and massie's commitment. from the hill, from the administration, show them the challenges, what we can do, respond to a crisis in galveston or elsewhere, 250 inches of rain, but had we've been at that facility, it would have been a different set of circumstances. this allows us to bite down some of those challenges. >> hard assets -- it's a reflection -- it would be a godsend. >> what you are all really in a niche. you talk about a potential
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shutdown, that legislation is very helpful. and the junior -- program, that helped, but we had another program in north charleston, another one in florida, that is two on top of the one in miami, miami and north carolina. those salaries, we can touch schools and we are becoming 30 in the next few years. so that's going to get us places we haven't been before. >> thank you, madam chair. >> that was more than two seconds, i apologize. >> i will call upon the chair of the full committee, senator cantwell. >> thank you, chair baldwin. and thank you for this important hearing. admiral schultz, you probably couldn't get a more dedicated group of people on this side of the dais who support the coast
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guard. making sure it has the resources it needs some, -- and master chief vanderhaden. i want to follow up on my colleague's comment about sexual assaults. i know i followed up with you about this recently. we have worked together on childcare in the coast guard, i appreciate those efforts, building health care in the coast guard. we have worked with you on paid family leave, very proud that the coast guard was leading the way on that i think you recognize that 30% of your workforce being women, you had to have better policies. so i appreciate the issue of sexual assault, it's an area where we need to spend some time. >> i would also say that it is also clear that the coast guard has many missions, and very hard to meet all those missions.
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this one, oversight of other vessels, and those vessels and what they are doing, particularly when we are putting young women on those vessels to do research -- basically, they are students. and now they are on these vessels. so i just want to go back to this issue of the accounts we've had by kings point midshipmen and others, questions about the coast guard investigations of u.s. flagged ships. i know there are fines. you can issue fines. but i want to know whether you believe that 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. >> madam chair, i absolutely think it's abhorrent behavior and we absolutely need to be aggressive.
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we've had ten cases -- less than ten, five cases over ten years -- so, not a lot of cases through that. we have investigated each one of those in the appropriate district. we had one case where we had a shipping line that wasn't responsive and we went through administrative suspension and the finding process. i suspect they are probably more activities going undetected and unreported -- >> exactly. >> we have a tip line and we are trying to push it out there. we've gone to the various maritime journals and others things, saying, here is who you contact, so there is an education piece. i will come back and brief the committee. these big ships ply the oceans and we find out after the fact. so getting evidentiary matters, to model some things, telephonic wise, but you need
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to have medical experts. but there are some room for -- >> i don't think investigation at sea is very hard. and the reason why you say there are probably more there that's undetected, i'm saying that we are hearing from them. >> yes, ma'am, you have my commitment. >> so we want to look at the fine, 5000 dollars to 10,000 dollars, certainly not enough. i think we have to look at increasing that. but as we diversify this workforce we have to make sure that women are safe at sea and that we have the resources and infrastructure to oversee the operation of the ships that you have oversight over and make sure that 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. >> yes, they have to take it very seriously, and feel like there is accountability.
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>> yes. we are in agreement on that. so i look forward to an action plan and formal response. on the issue of the california oil spill and this issue issue of congestion, it seems to me a new phenomenon has happened. we are parking a lot of ships, right? because of lots of different reasons related to the pandemic. so it's as many as 100 vessels drifting off of the west coast resulting in anchorage areas. i know that -- i was surprised to learn that the anchorage directly adjacent to the pipeline in the california oil spill had a categorical exclusion under the national environmental protection act. which means it didn't go through full environmental review. so, we are parking lots of ships. but do we know where they are parking them? are we parking too close to these pipelines? and so, i would hope that you
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would -- i mean, i am not trying to catch you off-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 anchorage's throat puget sound, throughout holmes harbor, for the first time in a decade, causing pollution in communities. so i want to know what you are doing to help manage the situation and to help protect wildlife in these areas. commu>> yes, madam chair. you are absolutely correct. there are challenges with volumes and backlogs and some of that is not just in the coast guard -- but rather, managing the risks that go in our wheel house. we are looking at l.a., the oil spill, we are investigating that. and investigating causal factors. was there a ship involved?
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we made one shipping company and owners and operators a into the investigation in recent days. but that's just to start the conversation. we need to look at that. declare an anchorage, functionality, working with the state and the localities. we partner through the harbor safety committee and try to make informed decisions. the anchorage in question was created in 2006. it was created because of the size of larger vessels. so now they will carry 20,000 teu containers -- >> i don't know that we did the environmental review then -- >> that's what i'm saying. in this case, we need to dive in, and i think all our reports are managing this to different degrees. we need to make sure we are at the level of safety we think we are, make sure that the pipelines are in proximity.
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we cannot attribute this yet to a ship situation. but we have made a party to that, because it could be reduced. we have more investigative work ahead. >> right. >> but you have my commitment to make sure that -- you know, we want to keep the environment safe. keep ships from drifting offshore. that creates problems. we have wales. wills in your area, off of l.a.. we made changes to accommodate the whales and safer passage. this is challenging us in different ways. bigger ships, warships, just in time delivery systems, ships that do not fit at chore. there are a lot of moving parts and we have to work with the other stakeholders to make sure that they understand that we are doing this as responsibly as we can. from a coast guard and a safety perspective. >> and i think we need to think about what we do through an
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environmental impact on the wildlife -- >> i'm not sure if i'm abbreviating that -- i don't have an answer but -- >> thank, you thank you madam chair. >> next, senator nelson was. >> thank you for your service, gentlemen. admiral schultz, august 23rd, the fda approved a preliminary vaccine and the extent of the authorization under emergency use for the pfizer vaccine. august 24th, secretary austin issued his memorandum on the mandate later that month. the coast guard is following that procedure, is that correct? >> that is correct, senator. we are mandated vaccinated. >> the other branches, they have extended their deadline. the rest of the federal government, the deadline mandate is november 22nd. is that your deadline as well? >> i have not publicly stated
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the deadline yet. i guess, by default, as a member of dhs, it wouldn't be disingenuous to say the 22nd. but i have removed that decision space to see how things unfold. we are driving in the right direction towards compliance but we are not without a firm date. >> and in the august 24th letter, secretary austin, you said that mandatory vaccination would receive -- in accordance with fda approval, labeling and guidance. at the same time, when the fda, on the 23rd, when they made that distinct approval for comirnaty -- however you pronounce it -- and the fda there is not sufficient vaccine available for comirnaty. and as a matter of fact, on september 13th, nih published
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the same as pfizer, it does not plan to produce any product of the new versions over the next few months, while the uae authorized the next available. i have written to the secretary and the president. is that the case? are we going to mandate and force members of the military to force them to take a vaccine that is not fda approved? so, have you secured enough product of comirnaty to utilize the enforced vaccination program? >> his, i believe we have sufficient holdings of the approved vaccinations. i will double check and circle back. but i believe that is the case. >> okay, i would definitely appreciate that. a quick follow-up, what are you going to do with members of the coast guard who -- the vaccine? what was going to be your procedure?
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>> we are trying to focus on understanding the benefit of the vaccine, from a readiness standpoint, education. people want to see the vials, we show them the vials, we make the chief medical officer available to answer questions. we are about 90 to 92 and a half percent of shots, and 90% across the total active force. some challenges with reserves, because reserves are spread out. but we will continue to educate. we have put some strategies in place so that if you are not vaccinated, you may not attend on advance training course a curriculum. and in terms of discharge in those things, on the active side, it's somewhere south of 3000 unvaccinated folks. some portion of that is religious accommodations. we are processing those. they go through a chaplain. there are medical waivers in their. we are trying to get arms around, what those specific numbers are, and then of course,
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move forward. we haven't made any decisions regarding administration. but we are looking at those. >> thank you. we are getting an awful lot of letters and emails from people pretty concerned about this mandate. i hope you take that into consideration. left let's shift gears to the southern border. i know that the coast guard works within dhs, primarily on 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, is this through the lens of narcotics smuggling? >> -- when we are encountering 200,000 people per month, over 6700 per day, that is overwhelming the systems, and opening up channels for drug trafficking and human trafficking. do you believe the border is secure? >> -- >> do you believe the border is closed? i believe that's the
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terminology. >> i think it would be disingenuous to say that the border is closed. we've seen numbers come in, unaccompanied children, sometimes families. so there are tens of thousands coming in on a monthly basis. in terms of what's type of border policy we want, i would say, that's above my pay grade. there is a higher propensity for illicit activity right now? clearly, the answer is yes. >> so my question is, how are we utilizing personnel between the coast guard and dhs? dhs also helps and drug introduction. have they had to pull people off of drug interdiction? to deal with the enormous flow? i know there was one report where coast guard was helping evacuate, to airlift, some of the illegal immigrants off of the border and into interiors. so could you comment in terms of what personnel movement has been? >> i would say, when you are
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dealing with a couple hundred thousand people at the border, it is a capacity challenge. we assisted the department of homeland for about six days. i believe the number was up around 1390 folks from del rio to other processing sites in texas. we had 29 flights. we had three c-130 aircraft that were supporting. and so was less than three dozen coast guard men and women supporting. but that was a department challenge. the coast guard, clearly, part of the dhs, had help on that. is that what a place where coast guard was involved all the time? no. but there are other challenges. we've had medical people down, they're supporting border control, so that men and women can get to the border. and allow frontline people to get to the border and so i think there is an ongoing role to emphasize. >> okay thank you for that.
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>> all right, next senator duckworth's will be presenting remotely. >> it is a pleasure to join you today. gentlemen, if you are looking for places i invite you to come to illinois and all of my communities of color along the mississippi river, not the least of which illinois was a major -- during the civil war. another community of color that is struggling and sure could use a program for the young people growing up their. but, 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 senate committee. i'm particularly interested in the coast guard some gain with our allies and partners in the indo-pacific region through exercises and training. for example, given to cutters,
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another one to sri lanka and many other nations, can you explain how the coast guard's international partnership strengthen our nations readiness to engage in great power competition in the indo-pacific region? >> thank you for your service. we recently, the sea no, myself and general burger, back in the late -- maritime advantage at sea, it is tied together by the unique roles on how to bring all naval capabilities against challenges against the globe. a lot of that was around the indo-pacific part of the world. but we, have we support the indo-pacific commander with national security cutters, on occasion we have -- that is just wrapping up a multi month deployment there. she exercised and emma way with taiwan that was late in march. she exercised with the japanese coast guard, and japanese
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self-defense naval forces. we worked with malaysian maritime enforcement agency, so we can do a lot of capacity building. we have coast guard liaison, attaché and that part of the world. we have someone going to singapore next summer. we partnered with the australians, multi australian naval forces are working with our coast guards. i broadened that out a little bit, i look into the indo-pacific region outside of -- we put three new fast response cutters, in guam i was other for the commissioning there. they are stretching about 10,000 miles, they are sometimes teamed up with the coast guard. we have another platform that extends their abilities for logistics support and they were just doing some work out there in the region with the nation, they had an australian provided patrol boat, we help them cover some of their fisheries,
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enforcement efforts here. so i think you are going to see an increasing demand. i know you are seeing an increasing demand going from my d.o.d. shipment colleagues, more expanded operations across the vast ocean a region where there is great competition of china versus human to human interaction, the like-minded partners your view of open oceans, i think that is where the coast guard bring some unique capability. china uses its coast guard and its maritime militias, they sit back and say hey, we are not militarizing the indo-pacific. i would tell you, who better to call the coast guard than the united states coast guard which i think is a recognizable for some good here. >> thank you admiral. if you could provide me an answer within a written format, because we want to have a time here.
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could you give a potential update on what specific actions that she would recommend congress would consider as we seek to empower the coast guard to expand its presence, and operations in the indo-pacific region. i just want to touch on affordable housing for coasts. my brother was a coast guard men of color. asian american who dropped out of the coast guard, who wanted to be -- but left. because, he just could not sustain the lifestyle, and he needed to make more money. our concern is that it is very difficult for service members of the coast guard to be able to afford rent, affordable housing, and in areas families must compete with tourism, i would like to have a conversation with you about that on what we can do to help you with this matter, and finally i do want to close by saying i have received feedback
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-- for female coast is, they choose between starting in the coast guard and starting a family -- thank you. >> thank you senator. we will circle back with your staff and try to address all of the issues you raised. >> thank you. >> we are going to start a second round of questioning. in honor of the democrat republican tradition i'm going to call american member first. >> thank you madam chair. gentlemen, i talked about the icebreakers, the polar security cutters, and admiral you and i have talked about what is a concern of mine, i think it is a concern of yours which is the gap in coverage, given the fire board to healy, it left our country with one capable icebreaker. you and i talked about this
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idea on the unfunded priority list for an immediate release of a potential for capable vessel. there was some progress being made, i think it has kind of been stalled. more specifically, for our longer term as we build these polar security cutters, my own view which i know you are very familiar with says that at least one of these should be actually home ported in the arctic. we have authorized six, we are building three now. there have been some discussion recently of homeward-ing perhaps peeling in alaska. could you touch on both of these short term leasing issues? and the longer term basing issues. i think it makes complete strategic sense to have
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icebreakers home ported in the place that they are going to be operationally most relevant, which is the arctic, which is alaska. i know that in the lower 48 it can take up to two weeks. certainly, from your perspective, you want to put those where they are currently some. i think that makes sense. but, if we had more with the option of the heel, ei would like your views on both of those. >> thank you for the question. i would tell you, in terms of the conversation about leasing and available icebreakers, those conversations continue. i think we pivoted the conversation from potentially a lease to maybe a purchase, and we remain engaged with the administration and security staff. >> do we need to do anything here? we the congress? i think you are seeing here, coast guard acids, coast guard
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infrastructure, coast guard icebreakers, whether in the arctic or on the great lakes, it is really bipartisan. so, if you have something that can help us accelerate that, please let the congress know. >> i think the conversation, the energizing the conversation about the geostrategic reports of high latitude, keep that voice, keep amplifying, that i think it is important. i do not have the wherewithal in my budget as we are building five different capital ship programs for oh pcs, -- and orleans, there was talk about potentially the administration lifting dot, that seems to be a little less firm ground right now. how we would fund that, i think we included a wedge on the unfunded priority lid. in my mind, the smart way forward would be to keep it in
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our inventory. we would need sustainment funding on that. in terms of the broader conversation about icebreaking capacity, future home ports, i owe you some feedback from our study, that is in review inside the headquarters, it has not made it up to the front office yet i believe it is in qatar forces having come out of the engineers and things like that. i believe i will be able to give you some feedback on that. so we have talked about different options and the arctic. i consistently talked about a six, three, one strategy. a lot of goodness there. we talked about a -- that has been the conversation. and then there is a conversation about what is beyond that? we did some upgraded homework after the high latitude, be high mark studies, arguably could make a good business case for 69 breakers for the nation. >> russia has 50. many of which are nuclear, some of which are heavily weaponized.
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so we are way behind. i think there is a conversation about what is in the beyond three, and then what is the beyond three were you to cite those. when you look at alaska, we had the conversation about potentialities in kodiak with the water depth. we have some challenges with the space, was there a conversation about medium breakers? there might be a different conversation there. we talked about soars before. there has been some conversation something like the -- that is 145 crew members. you have been very generous the committee here on support and housing on kodiak, there are three phases with committee support. we would have to have a similar lift to do something in terms of the soft support. then we look at the maintenance support for the ship like that. >> i think there is conversations that align with your interest when we bring that conversation beyond the
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cutters, and we are committed to continue the dialogue and keep an open mind on that. thank you sir. >> thank you madam chair. >> thank you. master chief under 18, i recently traveled to the coast guard station in wisconsin. i met with the crew on the coast guard icebreaker mobile bay. it was very clear to me that icebreaking and buoy tending are both very hard work. well that mission will never be easy, it seems to me that there are opportunities to make life a bit easier for coast guard members and their families. so i will touch upon several issues, as well as if you. others in addition to career development and training i had heard from coast guard members and their families stationed in sturgeon bay wisconsin about the challenges with their
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facilities, which i will add were originally built in 1886. when it was still called the u.s. life saving service. also, the lack of childcare availability, and the difficulty and 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 cool located with an area off of tourism that people enjoy that area, so this is an issue coast guard wives, and not just on the great lakes. i am sure that a parent in alaska, and on the coast -- i am working hard to secure funding to rebuild stations like sturgeon bay in the
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reconciliation package. but, i wonder if you can talk a little bit about the basic allowance for housing? the basic allowance for housing is often not sufficient to cover the cost 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. so, have you observed member 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 mobile bay, same thing. i was kind of on your heels a little bit for that trip and they loved it. that station is just amazing,
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old lifesaving station. they really kept together with bailing wire and bubblegum. and they've done a great job, continuing to do great operations out there. they are grateful for your support and they are getting some funding for that, to update that station. the d.o.d. funds -- at 95% of actual cost for the military housing area. and they're the ones that can really move the needle, where there is a lot of d.o.d. -- if they are not collecting data where you are, it's not going to work for you. so, we are doing a really fine look at the military housing area and our policy of how we draw 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, then we are
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looking at exclusion zones. in covid, of all the bad things of covid, this was one that really caused us to stop and take a look and say, wow, housing costs really went up. so, our housing office has been thoroughly examining every military housing area. the interesting thing about the great lakes is that there is something called the cost county area. some of them are not -- dhs is not derived by a military housing area but by the county in it. and it has to do with other statistics. i'm not exactly sure how it is done. but we are really looking at every housing. i met with my service members and they are committed, d.o.d. personnel and readiness when -- they are committed to really fine-tuning their data collection. and they've increased the bah
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and 56 military housing areas preliminarily. they are confident that the data will show that we need to re-raise the bah. in sturgeon bay, it sounds like what your housing was, it needed to be worked on no matter what it was. we need to work on, perhaps, work with community leaders. in seward i visited some of the builders. and the -- why don't we build some apartment complexes and condos? then we can almost guarantee that they will occupy those and it will be win-win for everybody? so we are working with local elected leaders to try to increase the inventory in these areas. and so we are committed to trying to help with --
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our admiral schultz directed our budget folks to divert some funds. i appreciate your support, we are looking at every option. >> thank you. reclaiming -- >> i do think that between the chair and myself you will see progress on the housing issue. thank you 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 shipyards. that's an issue for us. i'm pretty sure it's 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
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complaining here. the vision i think you know and i think you talked about -- division which makes sense, all around, for the local economy and the coast guard, because you would save money as opposed to sending ships down to alan media and other places -- you could do it locally and crews would be closer to home ports. do you have any updates on that? i know you know that it is a priority. we got a lot changed, working with your excellent staff, to help us on the language. but are there any updates on that, sir? >> yes, sir. you and i have worked on this for a long time. we got to the place -- >> -- >> and some of the timing, that they wanted to do with the fishing fleet, and us operating on a one-year budget cycle, really with sort of seated the first quarter. and the uncertainty with annual appropriations -- >> right. >> and so there is a lot of work. we've got some two-year ability
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for for x maintenance funds. that was helpful to renew that. so we are looking at potential ship contracts that could be done in alaska in 2022 -- >> oh, good. >> i will make sure your staff is up to speed. and if there's a possibility we can steer some of that work to a shipyard -- there is obviously the timing, the availability of the shipyards, to do that kind of work. but we understand the intent. i think we are committed to try and get a successful outcome there. from our crews, you said men and women etsy was, being somewhere in the lower 48, it's a challenge in terms of family life, separation. generally, when kids are at school, you are sailing a lot. and you can be closer to home -- >> the adults i've talked to him district 17, they think the costs savings are pretty significant. we will continue to work with
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you on that. mr. chief, i was glad to hear you mentioned that morale is high. that was going to be one of my questions, given how close you are to it. and you should usually visited in alaska before this hearing. that's really good, whoever made that happen. so, well done. but my question for you is just a general one. in your travels, both to wisconsin and alaska and beyond, what were you hearing that were good things. when you say morale is high, why is it high? one of the problematic issues? what do you see for the coast guard men and women, what's keeping them up at night? and their families? we want to make sure we are taking care of the families as well. >> thank you both. morale is high because people love what they do. they have a very rewarding mission. we empower our junior members
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to make a difference. as i go around, it is younger folks that are being recognized, because they are being tremendous workers. and they have the knowledge that they are showing up. the challenge -- so, our computer systems and some of our technology, we haven't been able to make investments in our servers. our servers are at max capacity. we are doing what is called a tech revolution, with support from the committee, and support from the congress, we've been able to leverage technology. it's kind of funny -- they don't have any problem communicating on their personal devices, but when they try to log on to some of our coast guard workstations, our software programs and things like that, it's just difficult.
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and it's difficult in wisconsin and alaska. and so we are really making a significant, leveraged investment, to improve our see five eyes, improve our security systems. and do our law enforcement boarding. they will have mobility boarding where they are not just handwriting things anymore. they are typing into a tablet and uploading that information instead of having to write everything down and come back. so we are trying to leverage technology. i think that that is the biggest thing that we can do to help our people. they know it's out there, we just haven't been able to get it to them, but thanks to you, we are. >> -- >> go ahead -- >> -- we have ten cdc's across the coast guard. thinking about the infrastructure. going into seattle in charleston, we clearly want to
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upgrade facilities. there are interim periods going from about 13 million dollars, and you include where we hope to come out of the 2022 budget after subsidies. there is a lot of uncertainty out there. so, the housing costs have never been more challenging. some temporary relief after december, you had to make the case where, well, we had to show the cost. those are on peoples minds. and as people go into retirement as well. maybe now the 2021 conversation, but you fast forward to a young coast guard man or woman or a dual military couple, getting to that 12 your point, and the last year they had was difficult, a lot of out of pocket expenses. you know, they've been having a hard time finding childcare. if you are a skilled american, and you say, -- they offer you an 30,000 dollar increase in pay, to stay put, and childcare, it's a
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competitive place. so it's all those enabling personalities that congress can -- people love their team, we have challenges, we love working on those challenges. but it's those things that allow us to compete and keep the coast guard on track. this is going to get increasingly more important. i say to folks facing challenges, it's going to balance management and human capital retention. >> well, keep us posted legislatively. or administratively. a couple of years back, i remember, the d.o.d. came back with a policy that was putting postcards -- >> -- >> back of the line, and i was like, are you kidding me? and so keep us posted on that. >> and d.o.d. partners have been great partners. thank you for helping us. thank you. >> 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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>> okay, senator blackburn, you are recognized. >> well, thank you all for the hearing. i have just, really, one thing. admiral schultz, they have just recently celebrated that 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. i mean, people in memphis are really thankful and excited about this. 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 men and women in uniform and all the armed services. we turn the operations, the
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boat operations, sort of from a boat house into a station. a station means you have an officer in charge, a position that goes with broader authorities, and that allows us to better address the maritime challenges, whether that is search and rescue on the river waste system there, whether that is responding to security, hazardous material transit, waterways challenges. there is always different things that impact the heartland region and waterways. well it's a first class petty officer that leads that position, and giving him or her the requisite authorities, it's a better operation than we had before. we had sort of a boat forces operation with less clear construct on what authorities they had for their mission. so it's cleaning for the partners in the region. and i think it will be a more effective coast guard they are because of the change, ma'am. >> i think there are plenty of people in support of memphis and that agree with you. they are just really hopeful
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for what having this new station is going to bring. there is just one other question that i had. i've listened to some of senator sullivan's and the conversation that ensued. and this would be for either of you. as we look at great power competition and as we look at how we address arctic governance, is there any aspect or any area where our interests align with china and russia? >> senator, i would say -- the senator kind of chuckled and he talked about self-declared near arctic nation when he mentioned china's interest in the arctic. china had one research vessel they got from the ukrainians. they are now building heavy breakers, whatever that means. even entertain the conversation with nuclear breakers.
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we have to pay attention to what's china's interest is in the arctic. we've seen them up in the elastic arctic for eight of the last 12 years. arguably, they're down there surveying where we have undersea cables, paying attention to fifth generation fighters, in places like allison. they are clearly interested in the minerals on the oceans floor, shallow water access to energy. 13 to 15% of the untapped petroleum in the world, a third of the liquid petroleum gas. so i look at china over in the northern sea. the partnership with russia on a energy. and you look at all the economic benefit that russia is the arriving, about 25% of their gdp derives from arctic activities. russia chairs the arctic council right now, they took over in the spring, they also chair the arctic coast guard forum and things like sailing the northwest passage.
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our ability to partner with canada, we pushed it over to greenland. we collaborate with the daines, the french. i met last night with -- so we are parting with the other seven arctic nations, including russia. we have to have a constructive dialogue. but we have to pay attention to their intentions. we want the arctic to remain environmentally sends sound. when the permafrost causes a structure to fail, we offered to help, we are going to continue to stand on the high ground, be an environmental partner. and people saying what they do, there is a gap >> sometimes. and we need to haul 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 interest there that there is more than
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adversarial as we look at china. thank you all very much. >> thank you. we avoid adversarial, but there is not a lot of space between those two terms sometimes. >> got it, thank you. >> thank you. our round 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 to 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 received. that concludes today's hearing, thank you again.
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