The U.S. Coast Guard exercised contract options with Eastern Shipbuilding Group to begin construction of the first Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), the future USCGC Argus (WMSM-915), and to acquire long lead-time materials (LLTM) for the second OPC, the future USCGC Chase (WMSM-916).
The actions enable the production phase of the program, which is the largest in Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) history to date, to proceed.
The total value of the options exercised is $317.5 million. In addition to covering production of the lead OPC, this contract action also covers the initial order of components and materials necessary to support the future construction of the second OPC by acquiring propeller and steering components, marine diesel engines, the ship integrated control system, switchboards, and generators.
These contracts result from two major reviews in July and August, specifically the Final Critical Design
Review (FCDR) and Production Readiness Review (PRR).
“Recapitalization of the Coast Guard’s aging fleet of vessels, aircraft, systems and support infrastructure remains one of my highest priorities as Commandant,” said Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the Coast Guard. “Today’s actions are a critical step towards delivering a fleet of Offshore Patrol Cutters that will provide Coast Guard men and women with the tools to enforce our laws, secure our maritime borders, and execute the full range of Coast Guard missions for decades to come.”
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’s layered security strategy.
On September 15, 2016, the Coast Guard exercised the option for Detail Design on Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s OPC contract. The contract includes options for production of up to nine vessels with options for two additional vessels.
The U.S. Coast Guard plans to acquire a total of 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters which will complement the capabilities of the Service’s NSCs, FRCs and Polar Security Cutters as an essential element of the DHS’s layered security strategy.
Delivery of the lead OPC is currently planned for 2021.