The following is text of a news release from Eastern Shipbuilding Group:
(PANAMA CITY, Fla.) — Eastern Shipbuilding Group cut steel for the first offshore patrol cutter (OPC), Coast Guard cutter Argus (WMSM 915), on Jan. 7 at Eastern’s facilities. ESG successfully achieved this milestone even with sustaining damage and work interruption due to Hurricane Michael.
The cutting of steel will start the fabrication and assembly of the cutter’s hull, and ESG is to complete keel laying of Argus later this year. Additionally, ESG completed the placement of orders for all long lead time materials for OPC No. 2, Coast Guard cutter Chase (WMSM 916).
"Today represents a monumental day and reflects the dedication of our work force – the ability to overcome and perform even under the most strenuous circumstances and impacts of Hurricane Michael," Eastern President Joey D’Isernia said at the steel cutting. "ESG families have been dramatically impacted by the storm, and we continue to recover and help rebuild our shipyard and community. I cannot overstate enough how appreciative we are of all of our subcontractors and vendors contributions to our families during the recovery as well as the support we have received from our community partners. Hurricane Michael may have left its marks but it only strengthened our resolve to build the most sophisticated, highly capable national assets for the Coast Guard. Today's success is just the beginning of the construction of the OPCs at ESG by our dedicated team of shipbuilders and subcontractors for our customer and partner, the United States Coast Guard. We are excited for what will be a great 2019 for Eastern Shipbuilding Group and Bay County, Fla.”
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-60R or MH-65 helicopter and three operational over-the-horizon small boats. The vessel is also equipped with a highly sophisticated combat system and C4ISR suite that will enhance capabilities to execute the service’s missions.
On Sept. 15, 2016, the Coast Guard exercised the option for detail design on Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s OPC contract. Eastern Shipbuilding Group will construct the OPCs to replace the medium endurance cutters currently in service. The contract includes options for production of up to nine vessels with options for two additional vessels. The Coast Guard plans to acquire 25 OPCs.
• Length: 360 feet
• Beam: 54 feet
• Draft: 17 feet
• Sustained speed: 22-plus knots
• Range: 8,500-plus nautical miles
• Endurance: 60 days