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Coast Guard Ready for Possible Offshore Patrol Cutter Protest

Coast Guard commandant Adm. Paul Zunkuft speaking with reporters on Sept. 21, 2016. US Navy Photo

Coast Guard commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft speaking with reporters on Sept. 21, 2016. US Navy Photo

NEWPORT, R.I. — The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard said the service is prepared for a possible protest of last week’s offshore patrol cutter award, he told USNI News on Wednesday.

While not saying if the service was expecting the losers in last week’s OPC contract award to submit a protest, Adm. Paul Zukunft said the service would be ready justify its choice of Florida yard, Eastern Shipbuilding.

“I’ll just say we’re ready for one. What that does is provide full disclosure. What the other competitors do not know is what we are paying for one of these ships,” he said during the International Seapower Symposium at the Naval War College.
“The protest process allows for us to provide full transparency. All of the competitors realize one of the entering arguments into the offshore patrol cutter was affordability, affordability, affordability.”

In 2012 the service established an affordability target of $310 million per hull for ship construction for the 360 feet cutter. With the addition of government furnished equipment — like sensors and weapons – the total increases to about $421 million per ship.

Coast Guard Image

Coast Guard Image

In total, the 25-ship deal could be worth up to $10.5 billion.

Last week Eastern won a $110.3 million contract for the first OPC hull and options for eight more for a total contract award that could grow to $2.38 billion. The Florida yard beat out General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Bollinger Shipyards for the design and construction work. The three yards were awarded $64 million contracts in 2014 to refine their bids.

The head of BIW – builder of Arleigh Burke and Zumwalt guided missile destroyers – Fred Harris has said the yard could lose up to a third of its workforce if it lost the OPC contract.

A BIW spokesman wouldn’t say if the yard planned to protest the decision from the service last week. Either company has about ten days to issue a formal protest to the Government Accountability Office from the Sept. 15 award, according to the GAO.

BIW did issue a brief statement attributed to Harris saying, “we plan to meet with the Coast Guard to understand their selection decision.”

The OPC program the Coast Guard has called its highest investment priority, “will replace the service’s 210-foot and 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutters. It will feature increased range and endurance, powerful weapons, a larger flight deck, and improved command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment. The OPC will accommodate aircraft and small boat operations in all weather,” read a May Congressional Research Service report on Coast Guard procurement.


  • DaSaint

    The USCG is ready for a protest, and appear eager to reveal the proposed cost from Eastern. Must have been substantially lower than Bollinger’s. I’m sure BIW was the high-bidder, they have to be, considering their workforce and facilities limitations.

    But maybe Eastern wasn’t the lowest. Maybe Bollinger was, but the CG doesn’t want to put all its eggs in one basket, which would make perfect sense, and so therefore pay a slight differential for the peace of mind in diversifying to another yard.

  • Ed L

    I love the fact it has a bow thruster, 3 RIB’s. I left the fleet as the RIB’s were coming in. Never got a chance to coxswain one. Beautiful Ship. It really appears the CG is spreading the wealth around. The design would have made a good LCS. but is really is more like a Corvette.

  • old guy

    The contract form is much more important than any fictional award price. If the contractor agrees to a 70/30 overrun ratio and a Coast Guard only change board, you will see honesty creeping into the award.

  • Daba13

    In dollars, this will be the biggest shipbuilding program in USCG history. They have given it to a company with zero government shipbuilding experience, which is a big risk. Eastern must have been significantly lower in price than the others; they will have to be careful not to lose their shirts.

    • KillerClownfromOuterspace

      Imagine the cost overruns if BIW had won.

      • therottybear

        You mean $0???

        • KillerClownfromOuterspace

          In wonderland.

  • Dan Passaro

    I’d like to see penalties for protests. By that I mean by using the same idea that the NFL does for throwing a challenge.
    Win the challenge, done.
    Lose the challenge, then …. something, perhaps exclusion from a future bid. I’m sure someone has an idea along the lines of an appropriate penalty.

  • On Dre

    You come in with the lowest bid. Then you make it up in re-work when you charge the gov 3 times the normal rate to fix your own f#$% up.


    An interesting article, but come on. What did we expect the Commandant to say, “Yes, we totally screwed the pooch on this one and we are just praying no one protests because we are so royally screwed if they do”. In every single recent case of programmatic malfeasance, the people in charge expressed confidence in their selection.process up until it was shown that they had messed everything up. Having said that, if the USCG properly evaluated the candidates according to the criteria provided in the RFP, if anyone protests they should lose their protest. If not, the USCG should deservedly expect to be slapped down,

    • KillerClownfromOuterspace

      To be fair, the CG did everything it could to ensure the selection was on the merits. We can imagine the political pressure there was for it to go to BIW. Bollinger lost most of their pull when landry lost her seat. Given the size of the potential award, the lack of a protest would be a clear demonstration of the process. If I were either of the losers, I would protest just in case there was something no matter how minor.