The Coast Guard on Friday said it had exercised more than $400 million in contract options toward its ongoing surface fleet modernization, including the construction contract with Eastern Shipbuilding for its first of 25 planned medium-endurance Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC).

The Coast Guard awarded Florida-based Eastern Shipbuilding a total of $317.5 million to build the lead OPC, Argus, and long-lead materials for the second ship, Chase. The 360-foot Argus is slated for delivery in 2021. The OPC’s will replace aging 210-foot and 270-foot cutters. 

Notional OPC design is 360-feet long, a 54-foot beam, and 17-foot draft. (Graphic: Eastern Shipbuilding Group.)
Notional OPC design is 360-feet long, a 54-foot beam, and 17-foot draft. (Graphic: Eastern Shipbuilding Group.)

The construction contract for Argus is valued at $219 million and the long-lead award for Chase is $39.5 million. The remainder of the OPC contract funds is for support items.

The Coast Guard also said it awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] a $97.1 million contract to procure long-lead time material toward construction of the 11th high-endurance National Security Cutter (NSC). HII is building the 418-foot NSCs at its shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.

Under the long-lead award for the second OPC, Eastern Shipbuilding will acquire propeller and steering components, marine diesel engines, ship integrated control system, switchboards and generators.

The first OPC construction contract follows a successful critical design review for the ship in June, which demonstrated the detail design meets Coast Guard requirements, and a production readiness review a month later. Northrop Grumman [NOC] is the C4ISR and control systems integrator for the OPCs and Leonardo DRS, a U.S.-based division of Italy’s Leonardo, is providing the hybrid electric drive systems for the ships.

Eastern Shipbuilding in September 2017 received a $41.7 million contract for the long-lead materials for Argus.

The OPC is the final piece of the Coast Guard’s offshore ship recapitalization efforts, with the other two efforts well along. Deliveries of the 154-foot Fast Response Cutter, which typically operates closer to the littorals, are roughly half complete for the 58 vessel buy. Bollinger Shipyards builds the FRC.

Huntington Ingalls has delivered six NSCs. The original program of record was for eight ships but Congress has provided full funding for 11 and is considering funding one more. HII has delivered six NSCs and is expected to receive a construction contract for the 10th and 11th ships this year.

“Recapitalization of the Coast Guard’s aging fleet of vessels, aircraft, systems and support infrastructure remains one of my highest priorities as commandant,” Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said in a statement. “Today’s actions are a critical step toward 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.”

The OPC program is expected to cost between $10 billion and $11 billion for 25 vessels. Eastern Shipbuilding’s contract calls for the shipbuilder to construct the first nine vessels and incentives for ships 10 and 11. After that, the Coast Guard plans to recompete the program.