Coulton Company’s Maritime Memos brought to my attention that the Coast Guard is looking at the possibility of constructing future FRCs at yards other than Bollinger. They have issued an Request For Information (RFI).
“Background: The Fast Response Cutter (FRC)/SENTINEL Class Phase I contract was awarded in September 2008 to Bollinger Shipyards Incorporated for a lead ship and up to 33 additional hulls. The U.S. Coast Guard is currently conducting market research for the FRC/SENTINEL Class re-procurement. The FRC/SENTINEL Class Phase II acquisition will complete the fleet of 58 cutters by acquiring additional hulls.
“Objective: The U.S. Coast Guard invites U.S. shipyards to participate in one-on-one meetings with the FRC Project Manager and staff (FAR 15.201(c)(4)). At this time, the U.S. Coast Guard is interested in meeting only with U.S. shipyards that have the organic capability to design and construct cutters of the FRC’s complexity as described in the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2007 Request for Proposal (RFP): (http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/sentinel/pdf/frcbrfp.pdf).
“These meetings will be held in the Washington, DC area and are tentatively planned to begin on October 11, 2011. The U.S. Coast Guard will brief all potential offerors on the current status of the reprocurement, to include the FRC’s existing operational requirements and the potential acquisition strategies under consideration for the Phase II reprocurement.”
This could go in at least two different directions.
The Coast Guard has options with Bollinger for additional cutters up to a total of 34, but they are not contractually committed to continue exclusively with Bollinger. Since Bollinger is under contract to provide the design package for the Webber Class, the Coast Guard could invite yards to bid competitively to build additional Webber Class.
On the other hand the RFI specifically states, “…the U.S. Coast Guard is interested in meeting only with U.S. shipyards that have the organic capability to design and construct cutters of the FRC’s complexity as described in the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2007 Request for Proposal (RFP).” So it appears that they may also consider other designs that meet the original design requirements.
There is also the very slim possibility that the Coast Guard could build a high-low mix of two different designs in different yards at a rate of more than six vessels a year if it could be sold as a stimulus program.