On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded a contract to Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc., of Panama City, Fla., for the production of the Coast Guard’s newest patrol ship.
The Panama City-based company secured a deal to build nine offshore patrol cutters for the Coast Guard, which plans to acquire as many as 16 more under a program valued at $10.5 billion.
Eastern won over two rival bids including one from a unit of General Dynamics Corp., which makes nuclear submarines and destroyers for the U.S. Navy.
The OPC ships will replace the service’s aging fleet of medium endurance cutters, some that are in excess of 50 years old. Each OPC will feature a flight deck and advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.
The OPC will provide a capability bridge between the National Security Cutter and the Fast Response Cutter, which operates closer to shore.
“The Offshore Patrol Cutter acquisition is the Coast Guard’s highest investment priority, and we are proud to announce this important milestone,” said Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft.
“The Offshore Patrol Cutter will replace our aging medium endurance cutters and provide the majority of offshore presence by the Coast Guard’s cutter fleet. Whether combating transnational organized criminal networks off Central America or patrolling in the increasingly accessible Arctic, the Offshore Patrol Cutter will ensure our Nation’s maritime security and economic interests are preserved for decades to come.”
A long time employer in Bay County for over 40 years, Eastern currently provides jobs for more than 1500 employees. Since 2008, Eastern has spent more than $75 million dollars in upgrading and expanding its facilities and shipbuilding capabilities to continue growing and meeting the needs of its commercial and Government customers.
At the full ramp up of the OPC contract Eastern anticipates expanding its workforce with additional craftsmen and additional engineering and administration staff to fulfill the contract requirements. Eastern will also continue to provide quality vessels for commercial customers, maintaining its success and providing numerous jobs in the competitive, cost-conscious commercial shipbuilding market.
The first OPC is expected to be delivered in fiscal year 2021; the service plans to build 25 OPCs.