The Coast Guard on Friday exercised its contract options with Eastern Shipbuilding Group to start construction of the lead offshore patrol cutter (OPC) in Panama City, Florida.
Eastern Shipbuilding has also received the go-ahead to acquire long lead-time materials for the second OPC.
The Coast Guard in October 2016 awarded ESG the contract to design and construct the first series of nine Offshore Patrol Cutters, marking largest-ever vessel procurement contract ever awarded in the history of the Coast Guard.
The OPCs will replace the aging service’s aging fleet of 29 medium endurance cutters, some of which are more than 50 years old. The Coast Guard plans to build a total of 25 OPCs, representing a total investment of more $10 billion.
The total value of the options announced Friday is $317.5 million, the Coast Guard said.
In addition to covering production of the lead OPC, the contract 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.
Delivery of the lead OPC is currently planned for 2021.
“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.”