The Coast Guard on Monday awarded Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) a $325.1 million contract to begin construction of the fourth offshore patrol cutter (OPC), which is scheduled to be delivered in 2025.
The award is the final OPC contract to ESG under the first phase of the program, which ends with the fourth medium-endurance cutter. The Coast Guard in the current quarter through a second phase competition is expected to award a contract to the winning shipbuilder for the next 11 OPCs.
Ultimately, the Coast Guard plans to acquire 25 OPCs, which bridge the gap between the service’s fast response cutters that operate for several days at a time, typically near the littorals, and the high-endurance national security cutters that operate for two months at a time in the open oceans.
ESG originally was expected to build up to the first 11 OPCs before the program would be recompeted but a Category 5 hurricane in the fall of 2018 devastated the company’s shipyard in Florida, forcing it to seek contract relief. The Department of Homeland Security granted cost and schedule relief but also determined to host a new competition, called Stage 2, sooner rather than later.
ESG is currently building the first three Heritage class OPCs, with deliveries slated for 2023, 2024 and 2025, respectively. The ships will replace legacy 210-foot and 270-foot medium-endurance cutters that are aging and costly to operate and maintain.
The fourth OPC will be named the USCGC RUSH (WMSM 918).
“This follow-on award signifies the OPC team and our partners continue to provide quality craftsmanship and unparalleled service,” Joey D’Isernia, ESG’s president, said in a statement.