U.S. Coast Guard hit by breakdowns

July 6, 2005 at 12:24 PM

WASHINGTON, July 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Coast Guard's ability to protect U.S. ports and waterways against terrorism may be hampered by the record breakdowns of its ships, planes and choppers.

Lawmakers and security experts say that current White House plans to replace the Coast Guard's 88 aging cutters and 186 aircraft over the next 20 years should be accelerated, USA Today reported.

Former Coast Guard Commandant and Homeland Security Deputy Secretary James Loy says "the stakes are simply too high in the post-9/11 environment" to continue to allow the aging equipment to continue to deteriorate.

Some ships are more than 50 years old, well beyond the recommended age for replacement, the report said. Some are older even than fleets owned by nations such as Algeria and Pakistan.

Adm. Thomas Collins, commandant of the Coast Guard, says he supports the White House plan and has enough refurbished equipment to operate the fleet. But this month, he told Congress his equipment is failing at unacceptable rates, the newspaper said.

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