USCG Gives the Green Light for First Offshore Patrol Cutter
The U.S. Coast Guard has given the green light for the construction of its first new Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) and the procurement of long-lead-time materials for the second vessel in the series. The OPC program is the Coast Guard's largest contract ever and its highest priority acquisition.
The total value of the contract options exercised is about $315 million. In addition to covering production of the lead cutter, the order allows Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) to purchase the propeller and steering components, main engines, ship integrated control system, switchboards and generators for the second vessel, the future USCGC Chase.
Delivery of the first vessel in the class - the future USCGC Argus - is scheduled for 2021. She is named after one of the service's first vessels, the revenue cutter Argus, which entered service in 1791.
“Recapitalization of the Coast Guard’s aging fleet of vessels, aircraft, systems and support infrastructure remains one of my highest priorities,” said Adm. Karl Schultz, the commandant of the Coast Guard. “Today’s actions are a critical step towards delivering a fleet of offshore patrol cutters that will provide Coast Guard men and women with the tools to enforce our laws, secure our maritime borders, and execute the full range of Coast Guard missions for decades to come.”
If the USCG exercises all of its options with ESG, the contract provides for up to 25 of the new OPCs, which will replace the aging Medium Endurance Cutters currently in service.
"Our team and subcontractors have worked extremely hard to get these options exercised on time. As we continue this partnership with the USCG, we will deliver vessels which will protect our country’s shorelines and national security interests for the next forty plus years," said Eastern’s president, Joey D’Isernia. "Eastern Shipbuilding along with its vendor network from 29 other states will work tirelessly with the USCG project team to deliver high quality, highly capable vessels on time within budget."
Eastern's OPC design is based on the Vard 7 110, which uses commercial design standards and commercial equipment where possible to keep down costs. In 2016, when Eastern was selected as one of three final competitors, ESG founder Brian D'Isernia suggested that Eastern would compete hard on price and value. "Affordability will be the central consideration for this acquisition. With a track record of 110 vessels built on-time and on-budget since 2002, we at Eastern believe that we are the best shipyard to produce the vessels which will cost effectively fulfill the [requirement]," he said. Eastern went on to beat established defense shipbuilders Bath Iron Works and Bollinger to win the contract.