Construction of US Coast Guard’s new offshore patrol cutters (OPCs) is officially starting after the service awarded funds to Eastern Shipbuilding Group to begin construction of the lead OPC ‘Argus’.
The contract options which were announced September 28 also include funds for long lead-time materials for the second OPC, which will be named ‘Chase’.
This milestone, which begins the construction of the lead OPC, is another step in replacing the Coast Guard’s aging fleet of medium endurance cutters.
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.
“Recapitalization of the Coast Guard’s aging fleet of vessels, aircraft, systems and support infrastructure remains one of my highest priorities as commandant,” said Adm. 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 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.
Delivery of the lead OPC is currently planned for 2021.