Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) this week began cutting steel on the third Coast Guard offshore patrol cutter (OPC), a milestone marking the start of construction of the 360-foot medium-endurance cutter.

The Coast Guard Cutter INGHAM (WMSM-917) is scheduled for delivery in fiscal year 2024. The first OPC, the ARGUS, is nearly complete and is on schedule for delivery in August 2022.

“Our forward momentum continues to increase on this program and our recent investments in our people and our facilities will ensure that the men and women of the USCG receive these critical assets on the shortest timeline possible with the highest level of quality,” Joey D’Isernia, ESG’s president, said in a statement on Tuesday.

ESG, which is based in Panama City, Fla., said the first steel plates were cut at its Allanton Shipyard and then transferred to its Nelson Street Shipyard for assembly and construction. The Nelson Street facility is dedicated solely to the OPC program.

The shipbuilder said that the keel was laid in May for the second OPC, the CHASE, and that all long-lead time materials have been ordered for the fourth ship.

ESG is under contract for the first four ships. The Coast Guard is conducting a competition for the next 11 OPCs. The service eventually plans to acquire 25 of the new medium-endurance cutters, which will serve as a bridge between its 418-foot national security cutters, which patrol the open ocean, and 154-foot fast response cutters, which operate closer to shore.