The Coast Guard this Friday expects to release the Request for Proposals (RFP) for industry studies for a recompete of its new medium-endurance cutter class of ships with plans to award multiple study contracts valued at around $3 million each.

The timeline for the industry studies was outlined in an Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) Industry Day the Coast Guard held last Wednesday at its shipyard in Baltimore. The service last Friday released documents it presented at the Industry Day.

Under the proposed timeline, the industry study proposals are due on Jan. 13, 2020 and awards are planned in mid-February. The studies will inform requirements for the detailed, design and construction (DD&C) of the recompeted OPCs.

The draft RFP for DD&C is expected by July 31, 2020 with release of the final RFP on Oct. 10, 2020. Proposals will be due by April 29, 2021 with an award slated for the second quarter of fiscal year 2022 based on best value in continuing the acquisition program. Award criteria will be identified in the RFP.

Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG), the original winner of the OPC construction contract, is building the first two ships with options for two more. The initial contract called for the Florida-based shipbuilder to construct the first nine hulls and contained options for two more. At that point, the Coast Guard planned to recompete the 25-ship program.

But following Hurricane Michael in October 2019, which was reclassified as a Category 5 storm, ESG sought contract relief due to damages to its facilities. The Department of Homeland Security this fall granted relief, allowing the company to build up to four ships before the program is recompeted. ESG earlier this year cut steel on the first OPC, which is slated to be delivered in the fourth quarter of FY ‘22, about a year later than originally planned.

Under the recompeted program, which ESG is eligible to compete for, construction of the fifth hull is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of FY ’23 with delivery planned three years later in the fourth quarter of FY ’26.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz last week said he was encouraged with the initial responses the service has received to the OPC recompetition. There are concerns from ESG’s competitors that the company has a leg up in the new competition given that it is the incumbent, but the Coast Guard maintains it will have a level playing field for the recompete. The Coast Guard said that the industry studies will inform the DD&C RFP to ensure a fair competition.

In answers to questions submitted by vendors at the Industry Day, the Coast Guard said that also said that equipment that is on the OPCs that ESG will build may change based on the industry studies for the new vessels.