U.S. Coast Guard press release
The Coast Guard and Eastern Shipbuilding Group commenced cutting steel for the second offshore patrol cutter (OPC), Chase, in Panama City, Florida, April 27. The Coast Guard ordered production of the second OPC and acquisition of long lead-time material for the third OPC April 2. Contract delivery of Chase is scheduled to occur in 2023. The Coast Guard plans to acquire 25 of the Heritage-class OPCs.
The OPC meets the service’s long-term need for cutters capable of deploying independently or as part of task groups and is essential to stopping smugglers at sea, interdicting undocumented migrants, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting ports. The acquisition of 25 OPCs will complement the capabilities of the Service’s national security cutters, fast response cutters and polar security cutters as an essential element of the Department of Homeland Security’s layered security strategy.
Acquisition of the offshore patrol cutter (OPC) is the Coast Guard’s highest investment priority. The OPC will provide a capability bridge between the national security cutter, which patrols the open ocean in the most demanding maritime environments, and the fast response cutter, which serves 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 becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and operate. The first OPC is scheduled for delivery in 2022.
The OPCs will provide the majority of offshore presence for the Coast Guard’s cutter fleet. The OPCs will conduct missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction, search and rescue, and other homeland security and defense operations. Each OPC will be capable of deploying independently or as part of task groups and serving as a mobile command and control platform for surge operations such as hurricane response, mass migration incidents and other events. The cutters will also support Arctic objectives by helping regulate and protect emerging commerce and energy exploration in Alaska.
USCG OPC Main specifications:
- Number Planned: 25
- Length: 360 feet
- Beam: 54 feet
- Draft: 17 feet
- Sustained Speed: 22.5 knots
- Range: 10,200 nautical miles at 14 knots
- Endurance: 60-days
Naval News comments:
Steel cutting for first ship-in-class Argus (WMSM-915), took place on January 7, 2019 at Eastern’s facilities. Northrop Grumman is supplying C4ISR and control systems for the class while Leonardo DRS provides the hybrid electric drive system.
In September 2016, the Coast Guard awarded Panama City, Fla.-based Eastern Shipbuilding Group a contract to build the future USCGC Argus (WMSM-915) with options to build up to nine OPCs. Eastern beat General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Bollinger Shipyards to land the design and construction contract, which could be worth up to $10.5 billion as the Coast Guard intends to buy up to 25 OPCs.
However, in October 2018, Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle, severely damaging vast swaths of the region around Panama City, including to Eastern Shipbuilding’s shipyard.