The Coast Guard has established the offshore patrol cutter the service’s highest investment priority. It 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 OPC 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 270-foot and 210-foot medium endurance cutters that the OPC is replacing are 25 to 50 years old. The Coast Guard has made targeted investments to improve the reliability and operational availability of these cutters, but they are still on their way to technological obsolescence. The OPC is the most affordable way to fill the service’s need for long-term offshore capability to maintain current and future mission effectiveness.
The Coast Guard is using a two-phased design-build strategy to acquire the OPC. This approach establishes stable requirements and design early in the acquisition to help mitigate cost and schedule risks. The Coast Guard awarded preliminary and contract design awards to three vendors – Bollinger Shipyards Lockport LLC; Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc.; and General Dynamics, Bath Iron Works – in February 2014. After evaluating an extensive range of contract deliverables submitted by each of the preliminary and contract design phase contractors, the service will select one vendor to complete the second phase, which includes detail design and options for construction of up to nine OPCs. This approach further promotes affordability by allowing the Coast Guard to review how nine cutters are priced in a competitive environment before the down-select decision to a single contractor is made. Twenty-five OPCs are planned.