Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) on Tuesday evening said it began construction of the Coast Guard’s fourth medium-endurance offshore patrol cutter (OPC), the future RUSH (WMSM-918), which is slated for delivery in 2026.

Construction of the 360-foot

Heritage-class OPC began on Monday with the cutting of steel plates at the company’s Allanton Shipyard in Florida.

ESG is under contract for the first four OPCs. The company is 75 percent through construction of the first OPC, 50 percent on the second, and 25 percent on the third. The first OPC, the ARGUS, will be delivered in 2023.

The shipbuilder originally was under contract for the first 11 OPCs, but the company sought cost and schedule relief after sustaining extensive damage during Hurricane Michael in October 2018. The Department of Homeland Security granted the relief but terminated the contract after four ships and began a new competition for cutters five through 15 under Stage 2 of the program.

The Stage 2 contract was won by Austal USA but ESG plans to challenge the award in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

The Coast Guard’s program of record is for 25 OPCs. The ships will replace legacy medium-endurance cutters.