The U.S. Coast Guard released a final request for proposal (RFP) on Jan. 10, 2020, for industry studies to support the follow-on production of offshore patrol cutter (OPC).
The Offshore Patrol Cutter, also known as the Heritage-class cutter or the Maritime Security Cutter, Medium (WMSM), is a new class of cutters being built as part of the U.S. Coast Guard Integrated Deepwater System program.
It was announced in 2019 that the original winner of the OPC competition, Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG), was granted extraordinary relief by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after their shipbuilding facilities sustained significant damages from Hurricane Michael.
ESG submitted a relief request on June 30, 2019, under the authority of Public Law (P.L.) 85-804, after Hurricane Michael – a Category 5 storm – made landfall at its facility in Panama City, Florida on October 10, 2018. Hurricane Michael caused widespread damage to ESG facilities as well as homes and businesses in the area.
The Coast Guard is now moving forward with an adjustment to the OPC detail design and construction contract with Eastern Shipbuilding Group for up to the first four hulls. The Coast Guard plans to acquire a total of 25 OPCs and a new RFI was released which will inform the acquisition strategy for the follow-on procurement.
The OPCs are the Coast Guard’s highest acquisition priority and will provide a capability bridge between the Legend-class National Security Cutters (NSC), which patrols the open ocean in the most demanding maritime environments, and the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters, which serves closer to shore.
The vessels will feature state-of-the-market technology and will replace the service’s 270-foot and 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutters, commissioned between 1964 and 1991, which are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and operate.
Production on the first OPC, the future USCGC Argus (WMSM-915), commenced in January 2019 and the vessel was initially scheduled to be delivered by 2021. The Coast Guard has also ordered long lead-time materials for the second OPC, the future USCGC Chase (WMSM-916).