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Defence and Peace Economics








This paper empirically examines whether the aging of a fleet affects operational availability and operating cost using a unique data-set on the 117 47-foot Motor Lifeboats (MLBs) of the United States Coast Guard (USCG). Procured from 1997 to 2003, the 47-foot MLB is the standard lifeboat of the USCG and all 117 MLBs remain in service. The aging of the MLB fleet has resulted in higher annual operating costs and lower operational availability, although the nature of this relationship remains unclear. Our estimation strategy utilizes an error components estimator to examine these issues. We employ three variants of the dependent variables (i.e. the standard logarithmic transformation as is most commonly seen in the literature, inverse hyperbolic sine [IHS], and level outcomes). The point estimates from the standard logarithmic model finds operational availability for the MLBs decreases at a rate between 0.83 and 1.8% per year and cost increases at a rate between 0.33 and 7.81% per year. Similar effects are shown with the IHS and level outcome specifications. In terms of nonlinearity effects, we find the most pronounced changes in operational availability and cost occur for MLBs aged 15 years or more (in comparison to younger MLBs).


This work was authored as part of the Contributor’s official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.

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Original Publication Citation

Lavin, C. W., McNab, R. M., & Sullivan, R. S. (2017). The long term effects of an aging fleet on operational availability and cost: Evidence from the US Coast Guard. Defence and Peace Economics, 28(6), 634-651. doi:10.1080/10242694.2016.1192833