Eastern authenticates keel for nation’s second OPC

(PANAMA CITY, Fla.) — Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) hosted the keel authentication ceremony Monday for the U.S. Coast Guard’s second offshore patrol cutter (OPC), USCGC Chase (WMSM-916), at the Nelson Street facility. Adm. Karl Schultz, the 26th commandant of the Coast Guard, and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, R-Calif., ship sponsor, delivered remarks to mark the occasion along with ESG President Joey D’Isernia.

“Here at Eastern we start each day with the recognition that we are building a new era of cutters for the young women and men of the United States Coast Guard who will sail in them on critical national security missions for decades to come. From our 1,300 family members to your nearly 60,000 active duty, reserve, and civilian workforce … our pledge remains the same – these cutters will always get you home,” said D’Isernia.

Heritage-class offshore patrol cutter
Eastern Shipbuilding Group photo

As chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Roybal-Allard leads the effort to ensure homeland security personnel have the resources and guidance they need to keep the country safe and has a vital role in supporting the acquisition of the OPC program. The cutter honors previous namesake vessels including those named after Salmon Portland Chase, former chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, governor and anti-slavery leader.

“To the Coast Guard, our employees, and the community we call home, this is another milestone and moment of pride. We understand that you are depending on us to produce the absolute best workmanship and deliver a modern cutter that will stand the watch for up to 40 years. And much like Salmon Chase, we are up to the challenge,” said D’Isernia.

D’Isernia was accompanied on the podium by Schultz and Cory Brooks, the expert welder charged with welding the sponsor’s initials onto the ceremonial keel authentication plate.

The keel authentication, also known as keel laying, represents the ceremonial start of a ship’s life by commemorating the assembly of the initial modular construction units. Historically, to attest that the keel was properly laid and of excellent quality, the shipbuilder would carve their initials into the keel. This practice is commemorated by welding the ship’s sponsor’s initials into the keel authentication plate.

Last month, ESG was awarded contract modifications to begin construction of hull three, future USCGC cutter Ingham, and to purchase long-lead materials for hull four. The OPC is designed to conduct multiple missions in support of the nation’s maritime security and border protection. The OPC will provide a capability bridge between the national security cutter, which patrols the open ocean in the most demanding maritime environments, and the fast response cutter, which serves closer to shore. The OPC design includes the capability of carrying an MH-60 or MH-65 helicopter and three operational over-the-horizon small boats. The vessel is also equipped with a highly sophisticated combat system and C5ISR suite that will enhance capabilities to execute the service’s missions.

– Eastern Shipbuilding Group

By Professional Mariner Staff