Home Americas Austal nabs deal to build new US Coast Guard offshore patrol cutters

Austal nabs deal to build new US Coast Guard offshore patrol cutters

Eastern Shipbuilding Group photo of the OPC design

The US Coast Guard has awarded Austal USA a contract to produce up to 11 of the stalled offshore patrol cutters (OPCs).

The service revealed its decision after revising the program in response to the damages caused by Category 5 Hurricane Michael to the facilities of Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Florida, which had been selected the preferred builder of the new class of cutters in 2016.

To address the original shipbuilder’s affected capacities to deliver the planned 25 vessels, the service awarded design study contracts to eight shipbuilders in 2020 and has now selected Austal to help return the program back on track.

The initial award is valued at $208.26 million and supports detail design and long lead-time material for the fifth OPC, with options for production of up to 11 OPCs in total.

The contract has a potential value of up to $3.33 billion if all options are exercised.

US Coast Guard refers to the procurement of OPCs five through 15 as “stage 2” of the overall program.

“The offshore patrol cutter is absolutely vital to Coast Guard mission excellence as we recapitalize our legacy medium endurance cutters, some of which are more than 50 years old,” said Adm. Linda Fagan, commandant of the Coast Guard. “The OPCs are the ships our crews need to protect our national security, maritime safety and economic prosperity. I look forward to the new cutters joining our fleet.”

The 25-ship OPC program of record complements 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 maritime security strategy.

With a range of 10,200 nautical miles at 14 knots and a 60-day endurance period, the 110-meter OPC will meet 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 non-citizens, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting ports.

Austal expects to start construction of the ships in 2023, which will take place at the company’s new US$100 million steel shipbuilding facility in Mobile, Alabama.

Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said the new contract was the third steel shipbuilding program awarded to Austal USA.

“The US Coast Guard’s new offshore patrol cutters are an outstanding opportunity for Austal USA to further demonstrate the shipyard’s new steel shipbuilding capability,” Gregg said.