(PANAMA CITY, Fla.) — Eastern Shipbuilding Group on Tuesday announced the U.S. Coast Guard has awarded a contract to the company to begin construction of the fourth Heritage-class offshore patrol cutter (OPC), the future USCGC Rush (WMSM 918).
The 360-foot OPCs will form the backbone of the service’s future fleet around the world. Eastern Shipbuilding Group, in collaboration with its partners, produced the winning design of the OPC and was awarded detail design and construction of the first hulls in 2016. The new OPC design reflects cutting-edge technology and will replace the service’s 270-foot and 210-foot medium endurance cutters, which are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and operate.
“This follow-on award signifies the OPC team and our partners continue to provide quality craftsmanship and unparalleled service. We have a focused vision to support the OPC program with shipbuilding excellence and provide the country with a long-term industrial capability that can produce exceptional vessels that support national security interests,” said Joey D’Isernia, president of Eastern Shipbuilding Group.
As prime contractor, Eastern has successfully achieved program goals and mitigated the impacts of COVID-19 and current supply chain challenges. It expects to christen the first OPC this year, is nearly halfway through completion of the second vessel, and will host the keel authentication of the third OPC in a few weeks. The pace of production accelerates with each vessel that comes online.
“We utilized state-of-the-market technology, design, and construction methodologies to offer a more capable vessel than legacy assets currently in service. The innovations built into the OPCs were designed for sustainability and endurance and come from the ingenuity of the best engineers and manufacturers in the world. We thank the hundreds of partners and employees in the 34 states supporting us in this effort,” continued D’Isernia.
Construction is taking place at Eastern’s Nelson Street Shipyard in Panama City, Fla., a facility that is optimized for multi-hull construction of the OPC and dedicated to supporting the U.S. Coast Guard.
Eastern survived the third-largest U.S. hurricane in 2018 and has fully rebuilt its operational facilities. The company made many infrastructure investments from $50 million in state appropriations and economic development grants that benefit the OPC project with enhanced manufacturing capabilities and efficiencies that reduce cost and schedule risk. These infrastructure investments include an aluminum fabrication facility specifically designed to support full construction of the OPC aluminum superstructure in a covered and controlled environment.
Eastern has also completed launchway upgrades, upland bulkhead upgrades, construction platen expansions, and waterway deepening projects to further enhance its capability to launch and deliver two OPC-sized vessels per year.
At its Allanton Shipyard, Eastern has constructed a C5ISR production facility to conduct testing and integration of navigation, communication, and command and control, equipment, and simulators on premises prior to final installation on the vessel.
– Eastern Shipbuilding Group