(PANAMA CITY, Fla.) — Eastern Shipbuilding Group christened and launched USCGC Argus (WMSM 915), the U.S. Coast Guard’s first Heritage-class offshore patrol cutter (OPC), on Friday at the company’s Nelson St. Shipyard. More than 3,000 dignitaries and guests attended.
Ship sponsor Capt. Beverly Kelley (retired) had the honor of christening the vessel. Kelley was the first woman to command a U.S. military vessel as the commanding officer of the 95-foot cutter USCGC Cape Newagen, and was the first woman to command both a medium endurance cutter and a high endurance cutter (USCGC Northland and USCGC Boutwell, respectively).
“We are proud to christen this first of class national security asset in front of her crew today,” said Joey D’Isernia, CEO of Eastern Shipbuilding Group. “With each milestone we reach, our employees are constructing the most advanced and capable ship the U.S. Coast Guard has ever seen.”
“The offshore patrol cutter is one of the service’s highest acquisition priorities and is absolutely vital to recapitalizing the capability provided by our legacy fleet of 210-foot and 270-foot medium endurance cutters,” said Adm. Linda Fagan, commandant of the Coast Guard, who delivered the keynote address.
“We have overcome unprecedented challenges to arrive at this pivotal moment to witness this spectacular vessel enter the water for the very first time,” D’Isernia said. “People are only just beginning to see what this vessel is truly capable of and like the steel forged on her, we will not compromise.”
Over 1,500 craft employees and program professionals at Eastern Shipbuilding Group and 200 businesses from over 25 states are supporting the production of the first four offshore patrol cutters in Panama City. The OPC is designed to conduct an array of missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction, search and rescue, disaster relief, and other homeland security and defense operations in support of the nation’s maritime security and border protection.
The OPC design includes the capability of carrying an MH-60R or MH-65 helicopter and three over-the-horizon small boats. The vessel is also equipped with a highly sophisticated command, control, computers, communications, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) suite that will greatly enhance the Coast Guard’s mission capabilities.
The first OPC is named for the revenue cutter Argus, which was one of the first 10 ships assigned to the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, a predecessor service to the Coast Guard. Revenue cutter Argus began 13 years of service to the newly formed United States of America in 1791.
Click here to watch a video of the christening and launch of the offshore patrol cutter Argus.
– Eastern Shipbuilding Group