Coast Guard, Eastern Shipbuilding hold Offshore Patrol Cutter ceremony

Coast Guard Admiral, Michael J. Haycock, delivers his remarks during the Offshore Patrol Cutter program stand-up ceremony in Panama City, Florida, May 3, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Barney.)

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Eastern Shipbuilding in Panama City is the center of the universe when it comes to the next generation of US Coast Guard Patrol Cutters.

On Wednesday, Eastern along with high ranking members of the US Coast Guard held a stand-up ceremony establishing the project resident office (PRO) for the Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) acquisition program.

According to a release from the Coast Guard, the ceremony marks the official opening of the PRO, which provides on-site management of the OPC acquisition program for the Coast Guard. The PRO will be staffed by both active duty and civilian Coast Guard personnel and will monitor budget, schedule and contract performance to ensure successful program execution. The service’s other major cutter acquisition programs also have PROs at their respective shipyards.

The OPC is one of the Coast Guard’s highest acquisition priorities. The OPC will provide a capability bridge between the 418-foot National Security Cutter, which patrols the open ocean in the most demanding maritime environments, and the 154-foot Fast Response Cutter, which operates in environments closer to shore.

The ships will feature state-of-the-market technology and will replace the service’s 270-foot and 210-foot medium endurance cutters, which are, on average, 30 to 50 years old and are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and operate.

The first OPC is scheduled for delivery in fiscal year 2021. The Coast Guard plans to acquire 25 OPCs.

Back in September, Eastern was awarded a contract worth up to $10.5 billion by the Coast Guard to build the next generation of Patrol Cutters. The first part of that contract, valued at $110 million for the first hull and options for eight more.

If fulfilled in its entirety, the contract would mean up to 2,000 jobs for Eastern as it builds 25 OPCs.

According to Navaltoday.com, "Eastern Shipbuilding Group has brought in British company Babcock International to provide platform engineering design for the design and construction phases of the United States Coast Guard’s new Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) class vessels.

"Under the contract, Babcock will deliver a whole ship 3D model, selected systems and production support as part of the new design work, including detailed design of auxiliary systems, structure, outfit and electrical systems.

"The company also said the part of the work will be subcontracted to VARD, which earlier worked with Babcock to develop offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Irish Navy," according to the website.