The Eastern Shipbuilding Group has commenced the cutting of steel for the U.S. Coast Guard’s first Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), the future USCGC Argus (WMSM-915), during a ceremony in Panama City, Florida, Jan. 7.
The Coast Guard plans to acquire 25 of the Heritage-class OPCs. This milestone marks the beginning of production activities for the first OPC, and the Coast Guard has ordered long lead time materials for the second OPC.
The OPC is designed to conduct multiple missions in support of the nation’s maritime security and border protection. The OPC will provide a capability bridge between the Legend-class National Security Cutter (NSC), which patrols the open ocean in the most demanding maritime environments, and the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter (FRC), which serves closer to shore.
The OPC design includes the capability of carrying an MH-60R or MH-65 helicopters and three operational Over-The-Horizon (OTH) small boats. The vessel is also equipped with a highly sophisticated combat system and C4ISR suite that will enhance capabilities to execute the service’s missions.
The OPC meets the Service’s long-term need for cutters capable of deploying independently or as part of task groups and is essential to stopping smugglers at sea, interdicting undocumented migrants, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting our ports.
The acquisition of 25 OPCs will complement the capabilities of the Service’s National Security Cutters, Fast Response Cutters and Polar Security Cutters as an essential element of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s layered security strategy.
Delivery of the lead ship is scheduled for 2021.