(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday issued a notice to Austal USA, the offshore patrol cutter (OPC) Stage 2 contractor, to proceed on detail design work to support future production of OPCs. The Coast Guard issued the notice following the withdrawal of an award protest filed in July with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) by Eastern Shipbuilding Group.
The Coast Guard on June 30, 2022, awarded a fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract to Austal USA to produce up to 11 offshore patrol cutters. The initial award is valued at $208.26 million and supports detail design and long lead-time material for the fifth OPC, with options for production of up to 11 OPCs in total. The contract has a potential value of up to $3.33 billion if all options are exercised.
On Tuesday, Eastern Shipbuilding withdrew its protest to the GAO for the Stage 2 award to Austal USA, USNI News reported. The Florida shipbuilder was the initial contractor for the OPC program.
“The federal procurement process is designed to be fair and transparent. Ordinarily, the government discloses reasonable justification for its award decisions to the attorneys representing the parties in a protest. The government has declined to voluntarily disclose the information that might offer that justification. As a result, we are seeking the information and justification through a different legal pathway,” Eastern President Joey D’Isernia said in a Wednesday statement provided to USNI News.
While Eastern did not provide additional details, USNI News said the shipbuilder will continue to pursue the protest in federal court. Eastern’s grounds for the GAO protest included its assertion that Austal USA had access to leaked pricing information, and that the Alabama shipbuilder employed a former Coast Guard officer who would have non-public information about the OPC program.
The Coast Guard’s requirements for OPC Stage 2 detail design and production were developed to maintain commonality with earlier OPCs in critical areas such as the hull and propulsion systems, but provide flexibility to propose and implement new design elements that benefit life-cycle cost, production and operational efficiency and performance.