The Coast Guard has issued Austal USA contract work up to $3.3 billion to build the service’s Offshore Patrol Cutter, the company announced on Thursday.While the initial award is for $208.26 million, the contract has options for as many as 11 OPCs that Austal will build at its Mobile, Ala., shipyard’s new steel production line.
“Austal USA will construct the OPC using its proven ship manufacturing processes and innovative production methods that incorporate lean manufacturing principles, modular construction, and moving assembly lines in the company’s new state-of-the-art enclosed steel production facility,” the company said in a news release.
With eyes on the OPC contract in addition to the Marine Corps’ Light Amphibious Warship (LAW), Austal broke ground on its new steel facility last March.
“This contract award is the result of our continued investment in our people and our facilities. We are honored the Coast Guard has selected our team of shipbuilders to deliver its most important acquisition program,” Rusty Murdaugh, the president of Austal USA, said in the news release. “We are also thrilled for our community and our tremendous supplier base as this program will provide our shipbuilding team the backlog and stability for continued growth.”
The award comes after the Coast Guard in 2019 decided to recompete the OPC contract due to delays at Eastern Shipbuilding Group, which had difficulty meeting its contract obligations following damage the Panama City, Fla., yard suffered in 2018 from Hurricane Michael, USNI News reported at the time. Eastern Shipbuilding is on contract to build the first four OPCs.
HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., which builds the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter, also bid for the OPC recompete.
“HII entered this competition with a solid commitment to support our Coast Guard partners in building this important part of their fleet. Although we are very disappointed in the Offshore Patrol Cutter stage 2 decision, we remain committed to serving the Coast Guard on the National Security Cutters we are currently building, and look forward to opportunities to support this valued customer in the future,” Kimberly Aguillard, a spokesperson for Ingalls, said in a statement. “As demonstrated by our recent launch and recovery of an [Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle] with Pharos in Pascagoula River, HII and Ingalls Shipbuilding are hyper focused on growing and continuing to innovate and demonstrate capabilities in support of our customers.”
The Coast Guard is slated to buy 25 Heritage-class OPCs for its program of record, according to a Congressional Research Service report. The new OPCs will replace the Reliance-class and Famous-class Medium Endurance Cutters.