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Birdon Wins $1.2 Billion Contract for Next-Gen Inland Buoy Tenders

buoy tender
Illustration courtesy USCG

Published Oct 5, 2022 6:03 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded Birdon America the contract for the detail design and construction of its next generation of river buoy and inland construction tenders.

The initial award is worth $28 million, but the contract includes options for up to 16 river buoy tenders and 11 inland construction tenders. If all options are exercised, the total contract value would come to about $1.2 billion.

River buoy tenders place and repair short-range aids to navigation (ATON) on inland waterways. Inland construction tenders build ad repair the fixed ATON along inland waterways of the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico. They are the only Coast Guard platform with the capability to drive piles, build towers and other substantial marine construction tasks. 

The new tenders will replace a rapidly-aging inland buoy tender fleet. The current vessels in this role have an average age of about 57 years, and the eldest turned 78 this year. 

“This contract award is an important milestone for the new inland fleet that will improve our operational capability on the Western Rivers and Inland Waterways” said Adm. Linda Fagan, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Birdon is an Australian shipbuilder specializing in workboats and high-speed craft. It runs repair operations on both U.S. coasts, a small-craft manufacturing plant in Colorado, and a newly-opened manufacturing facility in Portland, Connecticut. The company also holds a $190 million, 10-year contract to overhaul the Coast Guard's motor lifeboat (MLB) fleet under a service life extension program, which covers up to 117 vessels from stations around the United States.

Birdon is also the builder of the Army's Bridge Erection Boat (BEB), a small road-portable utility tug built for bridging operations.