Colorado-based Birdon America Inc. has been awarded a $1.187 billion contract to design and build 27 Waterways Commerce Cutters (WCC) for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
Having responded to the first Request for Proposal (RFP) in July 2021, Birdon has invested in developing and refining a fully compliant, comprehensive, low-risk, and best value solution for the USCG. Pre-award investment included full tank testing and preliminary design approval from the American Bureau of Shipping.
The WCC contract is comprised of two separate but related vessel designs: the River Buoy Tender (WLR) and the Inland Construction Tender (WLIC). Both variants are complex, modern, and designed to military standards. The new cutter design is expected to provide up to 11 days of accommodation and habitability for up to 19 crewmembers. The 27 vessels will be constructed within a 10-year period beginning with an 18 month design finalization period.
The WCC vessels are essential to maintain and protect the U.S.’s intra-coastal and inland marine transportation system. The system spreads over 12,000 miles of commercially active inland waterways through which 630 million tons of cargo moves annually, accounting for more than $5.4 trillion annually and 30.7 million jobs for the U.S. economy. To support the safe and efficient flow of economic activity along these U.S. rivers, lakes, intercoastal waterways and harbors, WCCs establish and maintain over 28,200 inland Federal Aids to Navigation (ATON).
Additional missions include search and rescue (SAR), marine safety, marine environmental protection, and ports, waterways, and coastal security.
Careful selection of strong U.S. suppliers with proven performance and a reputation for high quality is a pillar of Birdon’s approach. Birdon is committed to delivery for the USCG and is proud that over 98% of its suppliers are U.S. companies, a fact that will not only provide economic benefit at home but mitigates the risk of supply chain delays.
Birdon is building on its experience and expertise in program management, design, manufacture, and support of the USCG and U.S. Army watercraft programs, by teaming with carefully selected partners. Bollinger Shipyards (Bollinger) and Incat Crowther will be key subcontractors to Birdon and share Birdon’s commitment to delivering for the USCG. The entire delivery team will work under Birdon’s integrated, standardized leadership model, which is proven across numerous multiple-site projects in the U.S. and abroad.
Bollinger has a long history of building vessels for the USCG, delivering 174 vessels in the last three decades alone. Bollinger will subcontract to Birdon for production of the bare hulls. All of Birdon’s production activities will take place in Lockport, La.
Birdon has established a successful track record with the U.S. Coast Guard during the last three years through its existing contract for the 47’ Motor Lifeboat Service Life Extension Program.
“We are confident that we represent a low risk, high-performing, and long-term partner for the Coast Guard on the WCC Program,” said Birdon CEO, Jamie Bruce. “Birdon, and our partners Bollinger and Incat Crowther, look forward to continuing our successful relationship with the Coast Guard for years to come.”
Birdon’s experience in the engagement and successful execution of major U.S. defense programs is key. The contract win is testament to Birdon’s track record in delivering the required outcomes for our clients through an unwavering focus on designing fully compliant, operationally superior vessels that meet the needs of our customers now and into the future.