Austal USA was awarded a contract with a potential value of $3.3 billion for the detail design and construction of up to 11 offshore patrol cutters (OPC) for the Coast Guard (USCG).
The award marks Austal USA’s first USCG acquisition program and follows the company’s recent award of their first competitive steel shipbuilding contract, the Navy’s auxiliary floating drydock medium (AFDM).
The OPC program is the Coast Guard’s highest investment priority as it will recapitalize the aging endurance cutters and provide a capability bridge between the service’s national security cutters (NSC) which operate in the open ocean and the fast response cutters which operate closer to shore.
Austal USA will construct the OPC using its ship manufacturing processes and production methods that incorporate lean manufacturing principles, modular construction, and moving assembly lines in the company’s new state-of-the-art enclosed steel production facility.
“The Austal USA team is excited to support the U.S. Coast Guard using our new steel panel line to manufacture and deliver ships highly capable of performing their critical homeland security and defense missions,” Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh said in a statement announcing the award. “This contract award is the result of our continued investment in our people and our facilities. We are honored the Coast Guard has selected our team of shipbuilders to deliver its most important acquisition program. We are also thrilled for our community and our tremendous supplier base as this program will provide our shipbuilding team the backlog and stability for continued growth.”
The 360' OPCs will provide the majority of offshore presence for the Coast Guard’s cutter fleet and will be capable of conducting a variety of missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction, and search and rescue. With a range of 10,200 nautical miles at 14 knots and a 60-day endurance period, each OPC will be capable of deploying independently or as part of task groups and serving as a mobile command and control platform for surge operations such as hurricane response, mass migration incidents and other events.
The cutters will also support Arctic objectives by helping regulate and protect emerging commerce and energy exploration in Alaska.
Austal USA is currently building the Navy’s Independence-variant littoral combat ship, expeditionary fast transport, and is under contract for the construction of Navajo-class towing, salvage, and rescue ships and an auxiliary floating drydock medium.