Panama City, Fla.-based Eastern Shipbuilding Group successfully completed its initial critical design review (ICDR) for the Coast Guard’s offshore patrol cutter (OPC) earlier this month.

On Sept. 15, 2016, the Coast Guard awarded a detail and design contract to Eastern. The shipyard is currently finalizing its design to construct the OPC to replace the medium endurance cutters currently in service. The contract includes options for production of up to nine nine vessels and has a potential total value of $2.38 billion.

The OPC is designed to conduct multiple missions in support of U.S. maritime security and border protection. The OPC will provide a capability bridge between the national security cutter (NSC), which patrols the open ocean in the most demanding maritime environments, and the fast response cutter (FRC), which operates closer to shore. The OPC design includes the capability of carrying an MH-60R or MH-65 helicopter and three operational over-the-horizon (OTH) small boats. The vessel will be equipped with a highly sophisticated combat system and C4ISR suite that will enhance capabilities to execute the service’s missions.

The review occurred on schedule and within the budget constraints set by the Coast Guard, and cleared the way to proceed to the next critical milestone, the Final Critical Design Review (FCDR). The completion if the ICDR comes after a weeklong discussions, demonstrations, and design presentations by ESG’s design team to the USCG ship design team, project management staff, and the Department of Homeland Security. The purpose of the ICDR is to verify that the OPC detail design is integrated and consistent with the USCG requirements.

The successful review culminates 10 months of detailed design and was a pre-requisite for award of the long lead time material (LLTM) contract to Eastern. Construction of the lead vessel is anticipated to start in August 2018 with delivery in 2021.

"This major milestone for the OPC program was achieved on time and our design was found to be compliant and affordable by the Coast Guard. We will continue to work closely with the USCG to ensure that this positive momentum is carried through the completion of the detail design phase and into the construction phase of the offshore patrol cutter,” ESG’s president Joey D’Isernia said in a statement released Wednesday.

The Coast Guard plans to acquire a total of 25 OPCs.