Legislature(2013 - 2014)BARNES 124

03/26/2013 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 2:00 p.m. Today --
Moved CSHJR 13(TRA) Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 176(TRA) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HJR 13-COAST GUARD NAT'L SECURITY CUTTER FUNDING                                                                    
2:35:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR P. WILSON announced that  the final order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  JOINT RESOLUTION  NO.  13,  Urging the  United  States                                                               
Congress and the  President of the United States  to complete the                                                               
funding  and acquisition  of three  additional National  Security                                                               
Cutters and to home port one of the cutters in Kodiak, Alaska.                                                                  
2:37:12 PM                                                                                                                    
MELANIE LESH, Staff, Representative  Alan Austerman, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on behalf  of the sponsor, stated that  HJR 13 would                                                               
urge the U.S. Congress and the  President of the U.S. to complete                                                               
the  funding   and  acquisition  of  three   additional  National                                                               
Security Cutters (NSCs) and request  one of the cutters should be                                                               
homeported  in  Kodiak.   She  explained  HJR  13 aims  to  raise                                                               
awareness  that  the  U.S.  Coast  Guard is  in  the  process  of                                                               
replacing  12 high-endurance  cutters with  eight technologically                                                               
advanced NSCs  and stressing the  necessity to deliver  all eight                                                               
vessels.     The  sponsor  wishes  to   highlight  the  strategic                                                               
importance of  Alaska in the  region and focus on  the importance                                                               
of the increasing role in the  Arctic with more open water in the                                                               
summer resulting in increased maritime  traffic.  She stated that                                                               
Kodiak  is  the nearest  USCG  port  and  would  be the  base  of                                                               
operations for vessels such as the  Bertholf, which is one of the                                                               
three completed NSCs which patrolled  the Arctic this past summer                                                               
in Operation  Arctic Shield.   She related that the  USCG assists                                                               
the U.S.  Department of Defense's  national defense  efforts with                                                               
its specialized capabilities in the region and elsewhere.                                                                       
2:39:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LESH  said that recently,  at a national  military conference                                                               
the three  chiefs met to  discuss the maritime  strategic issues,                                                               
including the  Commandant of the  USCG, Admiral Robert  Papp; the                                                               
Commandant of the U.S. Marine  Corps, General James Amos; and the                                                               
Chief of Naval  Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert.   The main                                                               
topic  of  discussion   was  the  Commander-in-Chief's  strategic                                                               
guidance which,  in part, requires  that the U.S.  military will,                                                               
of  necessity  rebalance towards  the  Asia-Pacific  region.   In                                                               
conclusion, HJR  13 has been designed  to send a reminder  to the                                                               
Congress  and  the U.S.  President  to  complete the  program  of                                                               
record for the  funding and acquisition of  three additional NSCs                                                               
cutters.   She recognized  two retired  U.S.C.G. captains  in the                                                               
room here to testify on the resolution.                                                                                         
2:40:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CARL UCHYTIL,  Captain, Retired, U.S. Coast  Guard (USCG), stated                                                               
that he is  a retired USCG captain who sailed  in Alaska's waters                                                               
and  served as  the commanding  officer of  the icebreaker  Polar                                                               
Sea.  He commended the committee  and said he wholly supports the                                                               
committee for  taking action to encourage  the federal government                                                               
and Department  of Homeland Security  to maintain a  NSC presence                                                               
in  Alaska.   Having  an NSC  specifically  homeported in  Alaska                                                               
would not  only provide a  multi-missioned platform to  serve the                                                               
coastal  communities   in  times   of  need,  but   perhaps  more                                                               
importantly,  would  build  mission   capacity  for  the  Alaskan                                                               
resident crew  to better understand  the unique  challenges faced                                                               
by mariners  sailing in the  Bering Sea  and the Gulf  of Alaska.                                                               
He thanked members for their support for the USCG in Alaska.                                                                    
2:41:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON  asked whether  three NSCs  would provide                                                               
enough support  and if  one NSC will  provide enough  coverage in                                                               
CAPTAIN UCHYTIL stated  one liberty he has as  a retired Captain,                                                               
he cannot speak  on behalf of the USCG's needs,  but he can speak                                                               
frankly and provide  his opinion based upon his  three decades of                                                               
service  in the  USCG.    Certainly, Alaska  has  3,300 miles  of                                                               
coastline.  Thus,  to adequately cover Alaska  would require more                                                               
than three NSCs, he said.                                                                                                       
2:42:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ISAACSON realized  that the  resolution does  not                                                               
empower  any demand  since  it is  not an  executive  order.   He                                                               
recalled Captain Uchytil is a retired ice breaker captain.                                                                      
CAPTAIN UCHYTIL answered yes; that he  served half of his time on                                                               
icebreakers.   He understood the  resolution has to do  with NSCs                                                               
so if this were a different venue  he would tout the needs of the                                                               
nation  and  encouraged Alaska  to  build  and sustain  a  viable                                                               
icebreaker fleet.                                                                                                               
2:43:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON  asked whether it is  feasible to support                                                               
an icebreaker homeport in Alaska.                                                                                               
CAPTAIN UCHYTIL  stated that the  NSCs have very  high technical,                                                               
high-demand  shore side  needs to  meet the  requirements of  the                                                               
crew, which doesn't  mean it couldn't be built in  a port such as                                                               
Kodiak, but  it probably  does not yet  exist to  really maintain                                                               
the NSC.  Similarly, staff  and technical support to maintain the                                                               
icebreakers would need to be developed.                                                                                         
2:45:03 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON asked for  clarification on whether he is                                                               
saying  Alaska does  not currently  have the  technical expertise                                                               
for the NSC.                                                                                                                    
CAPTAIN UCHYTIL  answered that the  expertise could be  built but                                                               
it does not currently exist.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON suggested that  passage of the resolution                                                               
would encourage the build out.                                                                                                  
2:45:41 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE FEIGE said HJR  13's supporting documents indicate                                                               
that the  NSC is a  legend class of the  USCG's fleet.   He asked                                                               
what vessels are currently based in Kodiak.                                                                                     
MR. UCITEL  answered that the USCG's  cutter Munro is a  378 foot                                                               
high-endurance cutter,  which are part  of a class of  12 cutters                                                               
built in the  1960s or 1970s.   The USCG has been  in the process                                                               
of decommissioning  these 12 vessels  and will replace  then with                                                               
the eight NSCs.   He said that  only five of the  eight NSCs have                                                               
been  funded so  part  of  this resolution  is  to encourage  the                                                               
federal  government to  build the  remaining three  vessels.   He                                                               
remarked  that his  son is  currently  assigned to  the Munro  in                                                               
2:46:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked why not  include the Under Secretary of                                                               
the Treasury and the U.S.  President among those receiving a copy                                                               
of the resolution.                                                                                                              
CAPTAIN  UCHYTIL   answered  that   the  USCG  falls   under  the                                                               
Department of Homeland  Security; that at one point  the USCG was                                                               
under the  U.S Department of  the Treasury, then  U.S. Department                                                               
of Transportation,  and now falls  under the jurisdiction  of the                                                               
Department of Homeland Security.                                                                                                
2:47:27 PM                                                                                                                    
ED PAGE, Captain,  Retired, U.S. Coast Guard  (USCG), stated that                                                               
he served  in the  U.S. Coast  Guard for  30 years.   He  said he                                                               
served  on  the U.S.  Coast  Guard  Cutter  Boutwell in  1973  in                                                               
Alaska.    He appreciated  the  resolution,  noting he  has  been                                                               
retired for  12 years,  but served  in Anchorage,  Ketchikan, and                                                               
Juneau.   The  USCG feels  appreciated by  Alaskans, which  makes                                                               
sense since  Alaska is  a maritime state.   He  characterized the                                                               
USCG's relationship  as being a  symbiotic and  good relationship                                                               
with the state.   He applauded the legislature's  efforts to work                                                               
to obtain the presence of more  USCG cutters.  He pointed out his                                                               
perspective  is  different  from  Captain  Uchytil's  perspective                                                               
since he  served on USCG  cutters for many  years in Alaska.   He                                                               
pointed  out his  work has  been in  the field  of marine  safety                                                               
programs,  relating he  was the  Chief of  Marine Safety  for the                                                               
Pacific Area and  for Alaska.  He explained that  he was involved                                                               
in  allocating cutters  and enforcement  oversight in  fisheries.                                                               
Clearly, the enormity of Alaska  makes the challenge even greater                                                               
and exacerbating  that problem is  the growing body of  water due                                                               
to the  environmental warming and climate  change.  Additionally,                                                               
Alaska  has   more  traffic  and  more   activity  with  offshore                                                               
exploration.    He explained  he  was  on  some of  the  drilling                                                               
platforms  in  1984  when they  initially  performed  exploratory                                                               
drilling   in  the   Chukchi  Sea,   but   things  have   changed                                                               
substantially  since  then.    He said  the  USCG's  presence  is                                                               
important,  just  as  having  policemen  on  the  highway  deters                                                               
motorists from speeding.                                                                                                        
2:49:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CAPTAIN  PAGE said  that the  USCG's presence  and monitoring  is                                                               
important, but  when something happens  the USCG will  provide an                                                               
effective response  to help prevent  loss of life,  property, and                                                               
environmental harm.  Thus it  seems logical that with the opening                                                               
up  of  more water  in  Alaska,  the  USCG  must have  more  USCG                                                               
cutters.   In fact, it  is one of  the metrics used  to determine                                                               
where cutters should go and how  to allocate them.  He emphasized                                                               
the  USCG  considers the  size,  the  issues, how  important  the                                                               
issues  are   in  determining  the   USCG's  role.     Certainly,                                                               
considering  the reconnoitering  Alaska's  waters  [the USCG  has                                                               
discovered] other nations,  such as China, have  a great interest                                                               
in tapping Alaska resources just offshore.                                                                                      
2:51:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CAPTAIN  PAGE anticipated  it  could happen  that  the U.S.  will                                                               
extend  its  borders further,  which  could  increase the  USCG's                                                               
jurisdictional areas.   He emphasized that the USCG  is the right                                                               
agency and  resource to carry this  mission out.  He  offered his                                                               
support for  HJR 13,  which he said  is appropriate,  needed, and                                                               
timely.  He offered his belief  that Alaska also impacts the rest                                                               
of  the nation,  in particular,  Alaska's resources  has national                                                               
ramifications.    The  fisheries, resource  protection,  and  oil                                                               
production  development are  all national  issues, he  said.   He                                                               
offered his belief that people in  Maine, Boston and New York are                                                               
paying attention  and the  USCG is  best suited  to ensure  it is                                                               
2:52:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR P. WILSON  asked him to assess how many  ships Alaska needs                                                               
[for adequate coverage of Alaska's waters].                                                                                     
CAPTAIN  PAGE  replied that  with  more  vessels sailing  in  the                                                               
Alaska's waters  enroute to the  Far East, and with  more vessels                                                               
using the Northern sea route  and the Northwest passage that even                                                               
with three [vessels]  the fleet will be  stretched for resources.                                                               
He  pointed  out  these  ships   typically  have  six  months  of                                                               
maintenance  annually  and  servicing.   He  concluded  that  the                                                               
proposed  three   vessels  represent  a  good   presence  and  is                                                               
realistic in terms of the nation's status and resources.                                                                        
2:53:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR P.  WILSON said that Kodiak  is a long way  from the Bering                                                               
Sea.   She  wondered if  Alaska will  need another  port that  is                                                               
better situated for impacts in the arctic.                                                                                      
CAPTAIN PAGE answered that the  real challenge will be to support                                                               
the vessels,  which is  why the USCG  likes to  comingle vessels,                                                               
which  helps provide  technical support  to maintain  the vessel.                                                               
He suggested  that spreading them  out is  less effective.   As a                                                               
practical matter, due  to the speed of vessels, a  vessel is only                                                               
24 hours away from any point.                                                                                                   
2:55:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS pointed  out that  three NSCs  are                                                               
built, five are funded, and eight  are planned.  He asked whether                                                               
he  knew where  the other  NSCs will  be homeported,  and whether                                                               
there is a possibility any others may be stationed in Kodiak.                                                                   
CAPTAIN PAGE  said was unsure.   He  offered his belief  that the                                                               
USCG will  try to accommodate  all the maritime interests  in the                                                               
country.     The  Alaska's  Congressional  Delegation   has  been                                                               
influential and the  USCG has been quite responsive  to the needs                                                               
of Alaska; however, he was unsure.                                                                                              
2:56:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR P.  WILSON, after first  determining no one else  wished to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HJR 13.                                                                                     
2:56:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN moved  to adopt  Conceptual Amendment  1, on                                                             
page  2, line  20, to  include  the President  of United  States,                                                             
[Barack Obama],  and the [U.S.]  Secretary of  Homeland Security,                                                             
[Janet  Napolitano],  to  the  list  of  people  to  receive  the                                                             
resolution.   There  being no  objection, Conceptual  Amendment 1                                                             
was adopted.                                                                                                                    
2:57:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON moved  to report HJR 13,  as amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying fiscal notes.   There being no  objection, the CSHJR
13(TRA)  was  reported  from the  House  Transportation  Standing                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB0176A.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HB 176 Sponsor Stmt ver A.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HB 176 FEDCO support letter.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HB 176 VWGoA memo.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HJR013A.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HJR 13 Sponsor Statement Coast Guard Vessels.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HJR 13 Support NSC fact sheet.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HJR 13 support Arctic Shield 2012.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HJR 13 support CGC Bertholf - Arctic Circle.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HB 176 - CS version U.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HB176-DOA-DMV-3-22-13.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HB 176 - CS version U.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HJR-13-TRA-3-22-13 Home Port Coast Guard Cutter.pdf HTRA 3/26/2013 1:30:00 PM
HJR 13