During the hearing, Papp provided a real example of how Coast Guard cutters deployed at sea protect the U.S. homeland:
“Just this past weekend, the Coast Guard Cutter Northland was on patrol when its embarked helicopter sighted a vessel with three outboard engines and numerous bales visible on deck. The go-fast vessel refused to stop – even after the helicopter fired warning shots – the helicopter gunner then fired into the go-fast’s engines to disable it. Cutter Northland’s boarding team recovered 1,600 kilos of pure cocaine … worth an estimated street value of $42 million dollars.”
Papp then clearly stated his top budget priority and explained why:
“If we do not have the tools to confront these threats [e.g., maritime terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, drug and migrant smuggling, illegal fishing, piracy], they will pose significant risk to America’s economic prosperity … this is why responsibly re-building the Coast Guard – and providing our hard working Coast Guardsmen with the tools they need to do their job – remains my top budget priority.”
“Despite the best efforts of our crews – and the support from this Committee – the state of our major cutter fleet – most of which is in excess of 40-years old – is deeply concerning. Our legacy high endurance cutters are only achieving 70% of their programmed underway hours – and, more than 50% of the time they are sailing with major debilitating casualties.”
On Wednesday, at 10 a.m. EST, Papp will testify along with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Marine Transportation. This hearing will cover, “Protecting Maritime Jobs and Enhancing Marine Safety in the post-Budget Control Act Fiscal Environment: A Review of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2013 Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Budget Request.”
Later on Wednesday, at 2:30 p.m. EST, Papp will testify before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and the Coast Guard. This hearing will cover, “The President’s FY2013 Budget Proposals for the Coast Guard and NOAA.”
Papp’s written statement to the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security are available to read online.