Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc. (ESG) announced today that the U.S. Coast Guard has awarded a contract to begin construction of the fourth Heritage Class offshore patrol cutter (OPC), the future USCGC Rush (WMSM 918).
The OPC will form the backbone of the service’s future fleet around the globe. ESG, in collaboration with its partners, produced the winning design of the OPC and was awarded detail design and construction of the first hulls in 2016. The new OPC designs reflect cutting-edge technology and will replace the service’s 270' and 210' medium endurance cutters, which are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and operate.
Eastern’s design of the 360'x54' OPC includes a draft of 17', speed in excess of 22 knots, a range of 10,200 nautical miles (at 14 knots), endurance for 60-day patrol cycles, capable of carrying an MH-60R or MH-65 helicopter, and three over-the-horizon (OTH) cutter boats. The OPC will conduct missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction search and rescue, and other homeland security and defense operations. Each OPC will feature a flight deck and advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment.
As prime contractor, ESG has successfully achieved program goals and mitigated the impacts of Covid-19 and current supply chain challenges. It expects to christen the first vessel this year, is nearly halfway through completion of the second vessel, and will host the keel authentication of the third OPC in a few weeks. The pace of production accelerates with each vessel that comes online.
“This follow-on award signifies the OPC team and our partners continue to provide quality craftsmanship and unparalleled service,” Joey D’Isernia, president of Eastern, said in a statement announcing the contract. “We have a focused vision to support the OPC Program with shipbuilding excellence and provide the country with a long-term industrial capability that can produce exceptional vessels that support national security interests.”
Construction is taking place at ESG’s Nelson Street Shipyard in Panama City, Florida, a facility that is optimized for multi-hull construction of the Offshore Patrol Cutter and dedicated to supporting the U.S. Coast Guard.
At its Allanton Shipyard, ESG has constructed a state-of-the-art C5ISR Production Facility to conduct testing and integration of navigation, communication, command and control, equipment, and simulators on-premises prior to final installation on the vessel.
“We utilized state of the market technology, design, and construction methodologies to offer a more capable vessel than legacy assets currently in service,” said D’Isernia. “The innovations built into the OPCs were designed for sustainability and endurance and come from the ingenuity of the best engineers and manufacturers in the world. We thank the hundreds of partners and employees in the thirty-four states supporting us in this effort.”
ESG survived the third-largest U.S. hurricane in 2018 and has fully rebuilt its operational facilities. The company made many infrastructure investments from $50 million in state appropriations and economic development grants that benefit the OPC project with enhanced manufacturing capabilities and efficiencies that reduce cost and schedule risk. These infrastructure investments include an aluminum fabrication facility specifically designed to support full construction of the OPC aluminum superstructure in a covered and controlled environment. ESG has also completed launch way upgrades, upland bulkhead upgrades, construction platen expansions, and waterway deepening projects to further enhance ESG’s capability to launch and deliver two OPC sized vessels per year.