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Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter Passes Final Critical Design Review

Rendering of Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutter. Eastern Shipbuilding Image

The Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) successfully conducted its final critical design review on June 29 after talks and demonstrations between the Coast Guard and contractor Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG).

Eastern Shipbuilding beat out two other companies in September 2016 to win the OPC competition. The Coast Guard awarded the company a $110-million contract to design the OPC and build the first hull, with options for eight more ships. The first cutter, USCGC Argus, is expected to deliver in 2021.

The final critical design review was meant to ensure the OPC design meets all Coast Guard requirements for the program, according to an Eastern Shipbuilding news release.

“This major milestone for the OPC program was achieved on time and our design was found to be ready for the next milestone, Production Readiness Review (PRR) on July 31, 2018,” Eastern Shipbuilding President Joey D’Isernia said in the release. “We will continue to work closely with the Coast Guard to make the design more affordable to build and develop refinements to improve mission effectiveness. Today’s success could not have been achieved without the hard work and dedication exhibited by the members of both the ESG and Coast Guard project teams. We are eager to take the next step with PRR and start of construction and look forward to an exciting fall for the Coast Guard and Eastern Shipbuilding.”

The Coast Guard has so far exercised contract options for detail design and for acquisition of long lead time materials for the first hull, according to the shipbuilder, located in Panama City, Fla.

The OPC will replace the service’s 210-foot and 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutters with a much larger hull – notionally 360 feet long, with a 17-foot draft and sustained speeds of 22.5 knots, according to a Coast Guard fact sheet. It will support the MH-60R or MH-65 helicopter and three operational Over-The-Horizon (OTH) small boats, and will be equipped with a command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) suite that will allow for more sophisticated missions than today’s platforms.

Former Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft had called OPC the Coast Guard’s “number-one priority” in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, and in a 2017 notice naming the first 11 OPCs he stated that “the offshore patrol cutter will be the backbone of Coast Guard offshore presence and the manifestation of our at-sea authorities. It is essential to stopping smugglers at sea, for interdicting undocumented migrants, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting our ports.”

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    “interdicting undocumented migrants”

    Why is the language constantly altered to change the meaning or perception? In other words, interdicting illegal immigration. IN fact, is there such a thing as a documented migrant?

    • There are documented migrants – the H-2 visa for instance.

      • old guy

        sorry for my week attempt at humor, but Newspeak, as shown in 1984 has now become the rule for the P.C. PRESS. H-3VISA holders are not considered immigrants any more than regular travelers on visa.

    • old guy

      I cnnot envision the flagrant, perspicacious suppositions expressed by your obtuse implications of incmprehensible obfuscation of quasi-factual representations of unduly explicit terminology which leads to embarrassing, although truthful, implications of the questionable status of persons seeking respite.

      • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

        Forgive me, for I have sinned…

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Nice ship, though maybe a bit pricey at $270m per unit.

    • Ed L

      Beats the cost of the Navy’s fubar. That OPC is a nice looking 360 foot vessel. Should complement the 418 foot NSC just fine. Now I was just looking at some studies done that refer that the Coast Guard NSC and OPC were built to handle The 5-inch/54 caliber (Mk 45) lightweight gun

      • Duane

        A 5 in gun could be added to just about any ship bigger than a coastal patrol. Our WW2 fleet submarines with a displacement of only 1,550 tons surfaced carried at least one, and sometimes two 5-in short barreled guns for surface action.

        The reason the USCG and USN and 22 other navies use the Mk 110 57mm gun is because it is superior to the 5-in gun.

        The Mk 110 has a vastly higher firing rate (220 rpm vs. only 15-18 rpm), carries far more ready rounds in the mount without manually reloading (120 vs. 20), and two different precision guided multi-mode seeker rounds have been developed for the 57mm and none for the 5 in.

        The only advantage of the 5 in. over the 57 mm is warhead weight, but it is still a puny short ranged weapon against ship sized targets, where an ASCM is far superior.

        • WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

          When facing down a chinese warship with a 5 in gun ten miles away, I’d love to see the look on your face when your little one shot one kill pea shooter comes up very short, and then the chinese bracket you with 5 in. rounds fulling knowing the next round will sink you, The look on your face-priceless….”but, but, but…”

          • Duane

            When facing down a Chinese warship you 1) don’t let it get within 100 miles without being fully prepared to take it out of action with a modern long range ASCM like the NSM, and 2) Forget your puny little 5 in popgun. It automatically fails point no. 1 because it has a range of a mere 13 miles (your ship has already been taken out of action by the enemy if you let a guided missile warship get that close) …. and even if the enemy somehow forgot to attack with long range ASCMs, your little 5 in popgun would have to put something like 50 to 60 shots or more on target to have any hope of disabling it.

            A couple of years ago the Navy tried to sink a retired naval auxiliary with demo charges (I believe it was well offshore), but the charges broke the vessel in two and only the stern sank. A DDG was then brought in to do some target practice on the floating bow section, and gave up after putting over 70 rounds of 5 in into just a bow section of a non-armored auxiliary. Finally a 688 was brought to the scene and sank the bow section with a Mk48 warshot.

            Guns are useful only against small craft, no bigger than a coastal patrol. For any ship sized target, only an ASCM has the range and the explosive power to disable a vessel.

        • Rocco

          Our DD’s & DE’s had no problems pelting the Japanese heavy cruisers in layte Gulf!!

      • colonialpara

        Yes, but the USCG opted for the 57 mm BOFORS the same as on LCS. Fires rapidly, yes, but not really a ship killing round now is it?

  • DaSaint

    Really nice looking vessel. And as importantly, this commercial shipbuilder is hitting all milestones on time, and on budget, with apparently no setbacks whatsoever. This may be a wake up call for the traditional naval shipbuilders. The D’Isernia family knows how to build complex commercial ships for a variety of demanding national and international clients, and they’re now demonstrating the same ‘tight ship’ methodology they use for their commercial work.

    $270M per ship is what it is because shipbuilding here is expensive. Even a USCG FRC costs almost $60M while a similar craft internationally costs no more than $15-20M. Go figure.

    My only pet peeve with this class is the 22.5 knot speed, but I’ll get over it. At least it can escort the amphibs and auxiliaries if necessary.

    • Secundius

      Range is suppose to be in excess of 16,000nmi using MAN-Diesels. That’s why the Low Speed…

      • Duane

        USCG fact sheet says 10,200 nm range @ 14 kts … still a lot.

      • Rocco

        Same propulsion in the new harbor patrol ship! 150′

    • Duane

      Since this is a long range patrol cutter, and doesn’t serve as an escort or do ASW, its relatively low top speed should not be a hindrance to its mission.

      • DaSaint

        Point taken. That said, we know that in the last world war, coast guard cutters did act as escorts and did do ASW picket duty.

        That was the last war.

        I’m not of the mind that there will ever be a war that protracted that there will be large escort groups to Europe or anywhere else on a consistent basis, where the majority of CG cutters outside of possibly NSCs get drafted into service. More likely, the OPCs will do picket duty outside of major ports along the continental US. Just my opinion.

    • Rocco

      Agreed kodos

  • eddie046

    Would it make sense to look at this platform and use it as a basis for a new Frigate design for the Navy? Just throwing that one out there. Seems like we could save some significant costs.

    • DaSaint

      Too small, too slow. The NSC would be a better platform, and in my opinion, it has its limitations too.

    • Duane

      It is close to size of an LCS but had nowhere near the warfighting capability. It is a patrol cutter.

      • old guy

        What warfighting capability?

        • Duane

          All of it … SuW, ASW, and MCM … with all the sensors, weapons, aviation assets, missile defenses, torpedo countermeasures, comms, combat management systems, etc that go into making a 21st century warship.

          Of course, you don’t concern yourself with facts. Or with anything that took place after around 1992.

        • Rocco

          Lol in his own world

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    I was not aware but in any event, it is obfuscating reality?

    • Horn

      Not necessarily. As another has stated, there are documented migrants. Also, as I stated, the term has been used for decades, back when we openly accepted immigrants seeking asylum. The Coast Guard doesn’t decide if their immigration is legal; the courts do. Think of it as another way of a military branch remaining politically neutral, as it should be.

      • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

        Unfortunately, today, everything is political. It is sad, but true.

  • Dan O’Brian

    Impressive, this ship is more of a warship than our pricey and worthless LCS can ever hope to be.

    • old guy

      very astute.

    • Duane

      This is not a warship in any meaningful way. It is not labeled or considered by the USCG a “warship”

      The Littoral Combat Ship is a warship in every sense or the word.

      What is it with you guys? Is it somehow personally rewarding to ignore the most obvious of facts in your unending trolling snark-a’thons?

      • Rocco

        Blah blah blah blah blah!! It figures you’d feel that way!!

    • Rocco

      Agreed!! No reason why the Navy can’t have its own version of this possibility to replace the LCS!!

    • Joseph H. Wubbold III

      Good evening from the Magical Isle of Vashon,
      Having inadvertently fomented a discussion on class names for Coast Guard Cutters, I am now going, this time on purpose, to get into the discussion of the word “warship”.

      As I served both as XO and then Commanding Officer of INGHAM, W35, I am very familiar with her and her sisters, all named for Secretaries of the Treasury. That is because the Coast Guard was in the Department of the Treasury, -then the Department of the Navy, then Treasury again, then Department of Transportation, and now in the Department of Homeland Security-when the 327′ Cutters were built. I choose not herein to get into a discussion of the history of my Service since 1790, but to possibly cloud the matter of what is a “warship” in my Service.

      Using INGHAM as an example, she originally was armed with one 5′ open mount forward, as the main battery. When the convoy system was started the 327′ class, with their long operating radius, were highly prized convoy escorts. They could and did go all the way across the Atlantic with no need for replenishment. They were fitted with a full ASW suite, depth charges, ATW, K-guns, along with a much larger gun complement. When I was XO in INGHAM, she had a full ASW capability with torpedoes, and at GTMO, getting ready to deploy to Viet Nam, we trained in ASW with a live sub, NGFS, UNREP, and all of the other war-fighting potentialities. What we did not train in were activities with which we were already familiar from our peacetime duties. Boarding and inspecting junks on Market Time was similar to law enforcement boardings, which we have done since 1790.

      My point here is that ARGUS and her sisters can and will be reconfigured for whatever missions are assigned. Further, the crews will be as highly trained as their counterparts in the Navy. Today, there is full interoperability between USCG and USN afloat assets. And what differences there are are easily and quickly corrected. When we inchopped to NAVFORV, there was no special training required-we reported for duty, and were assigned our first NGFS mission almost immediately. I commanded six Cutters, starting as a JG and ending as a CAPT. All of those Cutters but one-AGASSIZ-operated under Navy Opcon at some time. Inchop and outchop were easily handled operations. In Viet Nam, I even had a squadron of Swifts attached to us, down in IV Corps. I can hum, not sing, Anchors Aweigh as can I Semper Paratus.
      Captain Joe

  • Secundius

    @ Joseph H. Wubbold III (Captain Joe).

    I suspect you’re referring to the WPG-34 “Hamilton” which was of the “Treasury” class. There were NO “Secretary” class Cutters in WWII, because the first “Keel” of Secretary class Cutter was laid in 1965…

    • Joseph H. Wubbold III

      Dear Secundius,
      The term “Secretary Class” and “Treasury Class” have been used interchangeably to refer to the ships that included my INGHAM. When it was time to name the 378’s, HAMILTON was the lead ship of that class, to put back into the fleet a HAMILTON. The 327′ of that name was the one sunk in the Battle of the Atlantic.

      The 327′ class, to avoid any misunderstandings about which ships to whom I refer, were based on the ERIE class of Navy Patrol Gunboats, or at least the hull form. When I was a Cadet at the Academy, there was the builder’s model of ERIE in one of the classroom buildings. The 327′ Cutters are beautiful ships, and I use the present tense, because two of them survive. INGHAM is in Key West, and TANEY is in Baltimore. TANEY is a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, There is one photograph of her with 4 5/38′ mounts. I would have been interested to see the results of the inclining experiment for her in that configuration. As my INGHAM was the most seakindly ship in which I sailed, I can imagine that the extra weight was properly compensated, and that she may have rolled differently, but never hesitated.

      Thank you for your comment. Class names can be very confusing, and I am waiting with unconcealed anticipation what Class name will be given to the OPC. Maybe just the ARGUS Class.

      I have been following the travails of the Littoral Combat Ships, and I cannot refrain from commenting that the Coast Guard will probably be sailing ARGUS and her sisters about our Father’s business long after the LCS in both variants have been given away. Happily, they will not be given to us, as has been the case for other Navy ships. I am also the senior surviving Captain in UNIMAK, a former Navy small seaplane tender.

      • Secundius

        Ahhh, huhhh! And It completely slipped your mind to make that distinction when you posted you’re original comment. Because nowhere in your original do you make that distinction, and said “Secretary Class”. People get “Called Out” all the time on this Website for making, just those “Simple Errors”…

        • Rocco

          Be nice

      • Rocco

        Kodos