Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Panama City, Fla., has completed its final critical design review with Coast Guard officials for the offshore patrol cutter (OPC) program. The contract includes options for production of up to nine vessels with a potential total value of $2.4 billion.

A week of design presentations and discussions between the ESG team and the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security concluded the review on June 29, verifying that “the detail design is integrated and internally consistent with the USCG requirements and points towards the exercise of the contract option for construction of the first hull,” to be delivered in 2021 as the cutter Argus, company officials said in a prepared statement Monday.

Eastern’s design for the 360’x54’x17’ OPC was selected by the Coast Guard in September 2016, and features speed in excess of 22 knots, with range up to 10,200 nautical miles at 14 knots. The cutters will have endurance for 60-day patrols, carrying an MH-60R or MH65 helicopter and three over-the-horizon cutter boats for high seas interdiction and search and rescue missions.

The cutters will be equipped with a sophisticated combat system and C4ISR (command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) suite.

Former Coast Guard commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft called the OPC program the highest investment priority for the Coast Guard, replacing the workhorse medium endurance cutters in service since the 1960s. The new class will bridge the fleet between the 418' national security cutter class and the 154' fast response cutter, with plans to launch 25 OPCs.

The next program milestone is the production readiness review on July 31, said ESG president Joey D’Isernia.

“We will continue to work closely with the Coast Guard to make the design more affordable to build and develop refinements to improve mission effectiveness,” said D’Isernia. “Today's success could not have been achieved without the hard work and dedication exhibited by the members of both the ESG and Coast Guard project teams. We are eager to take the next step with PRR and start of construction and look forward to an exciting fall for the Coast Guard and Eastern Shipbuilding.”


Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.