Florida-based Eastern Shipbuilding Group has laid the keel for the U.S. Coast Guard’s first-of-class Offshore Patrol Cutter.
A virtual keel laying ceremony for the future USCGC Argus was held April 28 at Eastern’s main facility in Panama City, Florida.
The Coast Guard in October 2016 awarded ESG the contract to design and construct the first series of up to nine Offshore Patrol Cutters marking largest-ever vessel procurement contract ever awarded in the history of the Coast Guard. However, due to widespread damage to ESG facilities from Hurricane Michael’s 2018 landfall in Panama City, the Coast Guard modified the contract to up to four vessels and is now considering re-competing the contract.
In total, the Coast Guard plans to build up to 25 Offshore Patrol Vessels to replace the Coast Guard’s 29 Medium Endurance Cutters currently in service.
The multi-mission OPC design supports a wide range of missions in support of maritime security and border protection, and is meant serve as bridge between the national security cutter, which patrols the open ocean, and the close-to-shore fast response cutter.
“Eastern Shipbuilding Group is humbled and proud to have been chosen to build this next generation ship for the world’s best Coast Guard, and we think today represents a milestone that all those involved in the program can be proud of,” commented Eastern’s President Mr. Joey D’Isernia.
“The steel joined here today is unlike any you or I have seen before. This steel has been ravaged by 162 mph winds, generated by the 3rd most powerful hurricane to make landfall in this country’s history. This steel has borne witness to a Pandemic that has caused fear and shaken our core.
“But through all this, it remains sturdy, it remains resilient, and today it will join with other steel to become stronger, more defined, and more resolute. Today is representative of how we build, and of unwavering resolve in the face of adversity for a Coast Guard and a nation that deserves nothing less,” said D’Isernia.