Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) and Huntington Ingalls Industries

[HII] have submitted bids to build the second tranche of medium-endurance offshore patrol cutters (OPCs) for the Coast Guard, the companies said.

ESG and HII join Bollinger Shipyards in publicly disclosing bids for the OPC Stage 2 procurement. Bids were due last Friday.

The Coast Guard in March 2020 awarded nine companies study contracts for Stage 2 detail design and construction of the Heritage-class medium-endurance cutters, which are one of the service’s top acquisition priorities.

Awards were made to Austal USA, Bollinger, General Dynamics [GD] Bath Iron Works (BIW), ESG, Fincantieri Marinette Marine, HII, Philly Shipyard, Inc., and VT Halter Marine.

Spokesman for GD BIW and Philly Shipyard said their companies don’t typically comment on specific bids. Austal, Fincantieri and VT Halter Marine didn’t respond to queries about potential bids by our press time on Monday.

The Stage 2 contract will likely be worth several billion dollars.

ESG is the prime contractor for the first four OPCs. The company was originally expected to build up to the first 11 OPCs before the Coast Guard planned to recompete the contract, which the company won in 2016. However, after Hurricane Michael pounded ESG’s Florida-based facilities in October 2018, the company sought extraordinary relief in its contract.

The Coast Guard granted that relief in November 2019, delaying delivery of the first ship a year until 2022 and enabling negotiations for final cost and schedule targets. The contract was also modified to recompete the program beginning with the fifth ship. The winner of the Stage 2 detail design and construction contract will build OPCs five through 15 before the Coast Guard recompetes the program to round out the planned purchase of 25 OPCs.

ESG said that given its momentum and experience on the initial OPC production contract, it is best positioned to continue into Stage 2, providing the Coast Guard with the lowest risk and least schedule disruption. The company said that most of its detail design products and three-dimensional model for the first four ships can meet the technical requirements for the next tranche of OPCs.

“The United States Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutter program is a huge economic opportunity and point of pride for the state of Florida,” Joey D’Isernia, ESG’s president, said in a statement. “This program will mean thousands of jobs for our region and state. Eastern Shipbuilding is executing for the USCG by delivering unparalleled quality of construction while at the same time utilizing proven business management systems specifically tailored to this government project. I am confident we will continue building forward momentum as we partner each day with the USCG to deliver excellence in government shipbuilding.”

Construction of the first two OPCs is underway at ESG’s facilities and the Coast Guard in April awarded the company a contract to build the third ship and acquire long-lead time materials for the fourth.

Bollinger is building 64 fast response cutters (FRCs) for the Coast Guard and HII is under contract to supply the service with 11 national security cutters (NSCs). The FRCs typically operate in littoral waters and the NSCs in the open ocean. The OPC is the bridge between the two vessel types.

VT Halter Marine is building the Coast Guard’s new heavy icebreakers called the polar security cutters.