After no protests were filed by the losing bidders to build the Coast Guard’s new class of medium-endurance cutters, the service this week directed Eastern Shipbuilding Group to proceed with detail design and construction of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC).

The full Phase II award for the OPC includes the detail design work, options for production of the lead cutter and up to eight follow-on cutters. The Coast Guard in September awarded Eastern Shipbuilding a $2.4 billion contract for the OPC, selecting the Florida-based shipbuilder over bids from Bollinger Shipyards and General Dynamics [GD].

Notional OPC design. Graphic on Coast Guard website courtesy of Eastern Shipbuilding.
Notional OPC design. Graphic on Coast Guard website courtesy of Eastern Shipbuilding.

The period for the losing bidders to file a protest ended at close of business on Monday.

Eastern Shipbuilding said in September that its contract includes an option for two additional ships, which would potentially enable the shipbuilder to construct 11 OPCs for the Coast Guard under the initial contract. The Coast Guard plans to recomplete the production contract after either nine or 11 vessels are built. The service’s requirement is for 25 OPCs.

The Coast Guard said that it will move its OPC project resident office from the service’s Washington, D.C., headquarters to facilities located at Eastern Shipbuilding’s shipyard this winter. The Coast Guard personnel in the office will oversee construction and provide management of contract execution for the OPC acquisition.

The notional design for the OPC is a 360-foot long vessel that is 54-feet wide, has a 17-foot draft and is capable of 22.5 knots sustained speed. The OPC will have a range of 10,200 nautical miles at 14 knots and 60-day endurance. The vessel will be powered by two 16V marine diesel engines and have two five-blade propellers with controllable pitch. Three over-the-horizon small boats will be arranged on the OPC deck and the vessel will have a hangar for either one MH-60 or MH-65 helicopter plus an unmanned aircraft system.

Construction of the lead ship is planned to begin in FY ’18 with delivery slated for FY ’21.

The OPCs will replace the Coast Guard’s fleet of aging 270-foot and 210-foot medium endurance cutters. The OPC will bridge the gap between the National Security Cutter, which operates in the open ocean, and the Fast Response Cutter, which patrols closer to shore.