Austal USA has been awarded a contract for the detail design and construction of up to 11 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs) for the US Coast Guard (USCG). The first vessel has been contracted by the US Coast Guard, with options for a further 10 vessels.
This new contract, which has a potential value of $3.3 billion, is the third steel shipbuilding program awarded to Austal USA. Construction of the 110-meter OPCs is expected to commence in 2023 at Austal USA’s new $100 million steel shipbuilding facility in Mobile, Alabama.
“The United States Coast Guard’s new Offshore Patrol Cutters are an outstanding opportunity for Austal USA to further demonstrate the shipyard’s new steel shipbuilding capability; based on years of proven construction experience through the delivery of the LCS and EPF programs for the United States Navy,” said Austal Limited Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg. “The Offshore Patrol Cutters are a critical capability in the United States’ homeland security and the Coast Guard’s most important acquisition program, and the Austal USA team is very excited and proud to be delivering this major shipbuilding program for the USA.”
“This contract award is the result of our continued investment in our people and our facilities,” said Austal USA President, Rusty Murdaugh. “We are thrilled for the opportunities this will bring to our local community and our tremendous supplier base, as this program will provide our shipbuilding team the stability for continued growth.”
The Coast Guard’s OPCs provide a capability bridge between the service’s National Security Cutters, that operate in the open ocean, and the smaller, Fast Response Cutters that operate closer to shore. The new OPCs are capable of conducting a variety of missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction, and search and rescue operations.
With a range of 10,200 nautical miles at 14 knots and a 60-day endurance period, 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 emergency events. The Cutters will also support Arctic objectives by helping regulate and protect emerging commerce and energy exploration in Alaska.
Austal USA will construct the OPC using its proven ship manufacturing processes and innovative methods that incorporate lean manufacturing principles, modular construction, and moving assembly lines in the company’s new enclosed steel production facility.