Construction on the first ship in a new class of US Coast Guard cutters started with a steel cutting ceremony at Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s facilities in Panama City, Florida, on January 7.
The steel cutting for offshore patrol cutter (OPC) Argus (WMSM-915) was a significant milestone for the company even after it sustained damage and work interruption due to Hurricane Michael.
The cutting of steel will start the fabrication and assembly of the cutter’s hull, and ESG is to complete keel laying of Argus later this year.
Additionally, ESG completed the placement of orders for all long lead time materials for the second cutter, Chase (WMSM-916).
“Today represents a monumental day and reflects the dedication of our workforce – the ability to overcome and perform even under the most strenuous circumstances and impacts of Hurricane Michael,” Eastern’s president Joey D’Isernia said. “Today’s success is just the beginning of the construction of the OPCs at ESG by our dedicated team of shipbuilders and subcontractors for our customer and partner, the United States Coast Guard. We are excited for what will be a great 2019 for Eastern Shipbuilding Group and Bay County, Florida.”
Measuring 360 feet in length and 54 feet in width, with a projected speed of 22 knots, the OPCs are designed to conduct multiple missions in support of the nation’s maritime security and border protection.
Also referred to as the Heritage-class, the OPCs will provide a capability bridge between the national security cutter, which patrols the open ocean in the most demanding maritime environments, and the fast response cutter, which serves closer to shore.
The cutter design includes the capability of carrying an MH-60R or MH-65 helicopter and three operational over the-horizon small boats.
Eastern Shipbuilding Group will construct the OPCs to replace the medium endurance cutters currently in service. The contract includes options for production of up to nine vessels with options for two additional vessels.
The Coast Guard plans to acquire a total of 25 OPCs.
The first 11 cutters that are set to start deliveries in fiscal year 2021 will be named Argus, Chase, Ingham, Pickering, Rush, Icarus, Active, Diligence, Alert, Vigilant and Reliance.