OPC–Eastern Wins the Contract



The Coast Guard’s Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) is reporting Eastern Shipbuilding Group has been awarded the contract for detail design and construction of the first of 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) expected to replace the Coast Guard’s overage Medium Endurance Cutter Fleet.

“The Coast Guard today selected Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc. of Panama City, Florida, to continue to the detail design and construction phase (Phase II) of the offshore patrol cutter acquisition program. The award is worth $110.29 million.

“The full Phase II award covers detail design and production of up to nine OPCs and has a potential value of $2.38 billion if all options are exercised.

Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s notional design is 360 feet long, with a beam of 54 feet and a draft of 17 feet. The OPCs will have a sustained speed of 22.5 knots, a range of 10,200 nautical miles (at 14 knots), and an endurance of 60-days. It is expected to “conduct missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction search and rescue, and other homeland security and defense operations. Each OPC will feature a flight deck and advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.” It’s hangar will accommodate one MH-60 or an MH-65 and a Unmanned Air System (UAS).

WJHG.com reports, “At a cost of around $484 million per ship, it’s the largest contract the Coast Guard has ever awarded in its 226-year history.”

I’m not sure how that works out because “production of up to nine OPCs and has a potential value of $2.38 billion if all options are exercised” equals $264.4M/ship. If that is the actual shipyard building costs and the remaining $220M is Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) and other costs the ships may be a real bargain.

Hopefully additional details of the design will surface in the near future.

Thanks to Luke for bring this to my attention. 


73 thoughts on “OPC–Eastern Wins the Contract

    • I agree, I believe that Baths design was the best.

      I can tell bath themselves was not very happy about it,

      “We plan to meet with the Coast Guard to understand their selection decision,” said Harris in a statement Thursday.
      Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King released a joint statement expressing disappointment with the decision.
      “We are deeply disappointed by the Coast Guard’s announcement and believe that Bath Iron Works, with its outstanding shipbuilding record, would have delivered nothing but the best, highest-quality cutters to the Coast Guard,” said Collins and King. “We intend to evaluate the details of the award to ensure that the Coast Guard properly met all of its decision criteria, and we will continue to do all that we can to support the highly-skilled men and women at BIW who do so much to support our nation’s security.”

      • Even though it was 25 years ago when BIW was owned by Congoleum, a lot of people remember how BIW treated the USCG during the 378 WHEC FRAM mid-life overhaul. It wouldn’t surprise me if the BIW view that CG work is simply fill-in work between USN contracts played a role in this decision. Bath is capable of stellar work, but non-USN work doesn’t get BIW’s full attention.

      • Does Bath need the business that bad? I was just reviewing the pdf of the Navy’s 30-yr shipbuilding plan, and there’s 4-5 destroyers/cruisers every year for all 30 years… Seems pretty steady to me?

  1. Wow that is one big baby. Bigger than the Dutch Holland class… so maybe 3,800-4,000 tons?

    I’ve been speculating for a while that the USCG may have over specced the OPC. Instead of a cheap hull built in numbers to replace the 210s and 270s, it’s looking more and more like an NSC without the high end gear. Not sure why it needed to be much bigger than NZ’s 1,800t OPVs or Spain’s 2,600t BAMs. Only time will tell it that’s the right call I guess.

    • Yes, I am surprised it is as big as it is. Sounds like 4,000 tons since Holland is about 356×52.5×15 and 3,750 tons full load.

      It is decidedly larger than the 378s. Same beam as a Bertholf Class.

      I’m a little disappointed the speed is not a little higher, but they may be being concervative in their claims. The true maximum speed may be more.

      • Remember that the Famous Class Cutters were smaller than they should have been. In fact we never should have built them if we received the full complement of 378′ that we should have gotten. 36 and not 12. And if these ships are to last 40 years you are going to want them bigger than they should be for today’s use. you never know what tomorrow will bring. Future proofing. Flexibility and adaptability.
        I feel they should have made the NSC the same size as a modern frigate to give it the adaptability and flexibility it needs for its long service life. If you compare stats of the OPC to a modern Frigate you will realize that it fits the role/size of a modern PF/Corvette. The closest comparison i can think of is the PF Tacoma and the 327′.

        Concerning the speed if need be could you switch out the diesels for turbines if there is room?

      • Lyle, I don’t think there’s any way to switch to turbines, based on the size and location of the funnel and uptakes.

      • Now if the Navy were actually looking for a frigate, it might be possible to add turbines by extending the hull about 30 feet. then they could also add VLS.

      • The Bertholfts would not need an extension unless they wanted more than 8 Mk41 VLS. It is also already fast enough. I doubt if they would consider the OPC fast enough.

        The primary objection to using the NSC as a basis for a frigate has been cost.

    • I’ve been thinking about the size, particularly the beam, and I’m thinking the H-60 size flight deck had a considerable aspect to that design characteristic. Length might have grown to keep the length:beam ratio reasonable for hull speed factor. Extra room is nice, especially for future upgrades, and we’ve all seen the migrant rescues taxing the 210’s deckspace…

  2. It will be interesting to see how Eastern performs on this. They don’t appear to have done government work, so no experience with shipboard weapon systems, no experience with military sat and coms, probably no employees with secret clearance because their commercial work hasn’t required it up to this point.

    Also, their estimate of adding 1,000 to 2,000 jobs leads me to believe their yard doesn’t even have the capacity, currently, to take on this work.

    I find it interesting that Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, is the top Democrat on the Senate’s Commerce Committee that oversees the Coast Guard.

    Seems like Bath Iron Works has a lot to be upset about after this.

    • Vector, Eastern has been busy turning out ships for the commercial market for some time. That May help keep the costs down?
      You make a good point aobut yard capacity and workforce which is supposed to be part of the eval factors.

    • Northrop Grumman Mission Systems is assisting Eastern with OPC. It was a big win for NG as well. Sats, comms and security clearances won’t be an issue.

    • Northrop Grumman Missions Systems has partnered with Eastern for OPC. Sat and comms won’t be an issue. NG is also providing MCS and all sorts of other NAV products.

      • Chuck, that is exactly what that means. The USCG has not placed a high value in commonality with OPC. It is clear they have placed a high value on acquisition price, and not much else.

      • Eastern has also partnered with DOD project office for NBC defensive systems on the two fireboats they built for NYC, so, a tiny bit of experience working with the military.

      • Sorry for the double post. I didn’t think the first one went through.

        Chuck, I’ve actually learned Lockheed will be involved with OPC as well. Both NG and Lockheed have a presence on NSC and we should see some commonality between the two projects.

      • @BJ, Good to hear, thanks, I had gotten the impression the CG was working with the Navy’s LCS organization. (I try not to assume the worst.) The earlier information did not explicitly rule out the LM Aegis based system.

  3. Looking at the “portfolio” of past work on Eastern’s website, OPC is about 60′ longer and vastly more technical than anything they’ve ever done before.

    Will be interesting to see if they’ve bit off more than they can chew on this one. Coast Guard emphasized that cost was really the on thing that mattered after the first down select, but what’s the point in going with the cheapest yard if they can’t deliver a quality product?

      • Well there are some ships in that range, but they’re Ferries, Supply Vessels and a couple of Cranes. No much complexity there. Mostly open space and holds.

      • No question this will be the top end of their portfolio, and the OPCs will be a complex project for them, but the FDNY fireboats, while smaller, are close to as complex, with inter-agency command center, extra-powerful pumps and complex plumbing, and an NBC defense system… I see no experience with aviation spaces and systems in their history, nor weapons systems. Engineering spaces will not be vastly challenging compared to a large ferry or PSVs.

    • Yes, Vard Marine, formerly STX, was one of their partners and the design can be traced back through earlier designs, most recently the 90 meter Irish Samuel Beckett Class, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Beckett-class_offshore_patrol_vessel
      The 85 meter New Zealand Protector Class https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protector-class_offshore_patrol_vessel
      and before that the 80 meter Irish Roisin Class https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%89_R%C3%B3is%C3%ADn_(P51)
      The cutters are notably larger at 110 meters.

      • So Eastern’s design takes lessons from New Zealand Protector Class OPV, Irish Samuel Beckett Class OPV. So it looks like a cross over between the two with features from both of them.

      • Each class got progressively larger. The Irish Naval Service was not interested in operating helicopters from their ships, the New Zealanders were. The New Zealand ships were also ice strengthened, like the OPCs.

        All three of the previous classes had a 14 meter beam. As the ships got progressively longer, the length to beam ratio became greater. The cutters Length to Beam ratio (6.67) is slightly greater than that of the Samuel Beckett Class (6.5), still it is a lot beamer than the 378s that had a 9 to 1 length to beam ratio. During WWII destroyers and cruisers typically had a 10 to 1 length to beam ratio since they were optimized for maximum speed. Our ships are optimized for cruising speed and sea keeping.

      • Every time a ship is built the naval engineer uses the experience of the past. They were Vard’s most recent experience with this type of ship so they probably used them as a starting point and then made changes to meet our requirements. You can see it in the bow particularly.

        Still they turn out to be very different ships

      • So Chuck, here’s my question for you. What part’s of Eastern’s OPC design dose it share from New Zealand’s OPV and Ireland’s OPV. It dose seem like Eastern’s OPC is based on New Zealand’s OPV but stretched out.

      • Chuck,
        I think Eastern’s OPC design was wholly inspired by the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Protector-class offshore patrol vessel

  4. For comparison the Freedom class LCS are 387x58x13 feet compared to the OPCs 360x54x17feet.

    The Freedom class were originally to have been 378 feet long, but the hull was extended.

  5. I was surprised by the increased length from the 328 they had initially published. I had played with a Vard schematic of it and even then it seemed the quoted dimension didn’t add up. I will say that momentum seems to be in Eastern’s favor. They might not do government work, but they keep a diverse portfolio. I think there should be some consideration to keeping shipyards in the commercial business in order to qualify for government work. I’d say also apply that more broadly for defense contractors.

  6. Kudos to the Coast Guard for selecting what appears to be a solid patrol vessel. Other than the wimpy armament, it looks like an excellent design. Yes, it’s almost as big as a WHEC, but that bodes well for its utility going forward.

    I’m most happy they didn’t award the contract to Bollinger.

  7. At least it’s not Bollinger. Can’t give all the contracts to folks who have no problem putting the USCG and public in harms way. Building boats with weak hulls to save money on steel then falsifying strength calculations to hide it should catch up to you at some point.

  8. Some information on Vard (formerly STX), the design agent. http://www.naval-technology.com/contractors/warship/stx/

    Apparently they are also the designers of the Canadian Navy’s Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship. https://chuckhillscgblog.net/2012/02/29/canadas-arctic-offshore-patrol-ship-aops/ (the information in the post is out-dated, but there are updates in the comments.)

    This is their stated philosophy for OPVs

    OPV Design Philosophy
    Design to a moderate level of shock, radiated noise and damage survivability
    Achieve a practical degree of stealth capability
    Engineer greater seaworthiness at higher speeds in a slightly larger, but easier to build vessel
    Low through-life cost by the use of commercially available, good quality equipment
    Design higher internal volume, easy to outfit spaces
    Install weapons systems to meet the requirements of the navy in question
    Provide shipyards with a design and build package, including detail design, material data and complete equipment packages.
    Efficient operation through optimum hull configuration and structural design
    Superior crew habitability through a reduction in ship motions, low noise and vibration levels and a good standard of accommodation

  9. Vard Holdings announced yesterday that a design developed by its subsidiary, Vard Marine, has been selected for the US Coast Guard’s new offshore patrol cutter (OPC) programme.

    Vard Marine president and CEO Dave McMillan commented: “We look forward to completing detailed development of the VARD 7 110 design that formed the basis for our successful bid and supporting Eastern Shipbuilding Group in constructing high-quality vessels for the US Coast Guard.”


  10. I think I see six machine gun positions, three on each side. in addition to the Mk38 Mod2 (or 3) position on top of the hangar. A pair is mounted one deck up and aft of the 57mm gun, forward of the bridge; a pair on the bridge deck just forward of the boats and aft of the SLQ-32; and a pair on top of the Hangar, forward of the Mk38. Earlier we had indications that two of the .50 caliber postions would be Mk49 remote weapon stations. There is no apparent difference in the illustration among these positions, to indicate which if any of the positions has a remote weapons station. https://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/opc/pdf/OPC%20Placemat%2036×24.pdf
    If remote weapon stations are still planned, it would probably be best if they were mounted in the most forward positions where their sophisticated optics combined with those on the Mk 38, would provide 360 degree coverage.

    Better yet, put Mk38s there (or just one on the centerline, and forget the M2 .50 cals altogether.

    • Layout, at least in the illustrator’s notions, keeps changing slightly. Note how big the platforms are around the forward .50-cal mounts… I’d say, we’re going to have to wait until the steel is cut and being welded to see how this shakes out…

  11. “Quantic Engineering and Logistics Corporation, Panama City Beach, FL, reports it is Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) subcontractor for the recently awarded USCG Offshore Patrol Cutter contract…..Quantic will leverage its similar experience on the USCG WLB, WLM, and Great Lakes Icebreaker, to provide the Coast Guard with superior ILS products, so cutter personnel can safely and efficiently operate and maintain the cutter systems.”


  12. Commandant says the CG is ready to answer any challenge to the award of the contract to Eastern. https://news.usni.org/2016/09/21/coast-guard-ready-possible-offshore-patrol-cutter-protest#more-21727

    “Either company has about ten days to issue a formal protest to the Government Accountability Office from the Sept. 15 award, according to the GAO.”

    That being the case, we should know soon if there will be a protest. A bad effect of a protest is that it will stop work on the project, just as it did when the ititial contracts were awarded.

  13. I’m surprised. Figured Bath or Bollinger would have won it based on past awards. Could be a sign that contracts will be awarded on merit in the future, or it could be a disaster if it doesn’t turn out well.

    Sure hope it winds up being the former.

  14. A step forward, reported by CG-9, “The Coast Guard moved forward with the offshore patrol cutter acquisition today by issuing a notice to proceed to the detail design and construction phase (Phase II). The notice authorizes the contractor, Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc. of Panama City, Florida, to begin detail design work.”

    “The OPC project resident office, established earlier this year at the service’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., will move to facilities located at the contractor’s shipyard following their completion this winter. The OPC PRO is staffed with Coast Guard personnel who will oversee construction and provide management of contract execution for the OPC acquisition.”


  15. “Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been awarded a contract from Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) for the design of C4ISR and machinery control systems (MCS) for the U.S. Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC).”


    Thanks to Luke for bring this to my attention.

  16. First two paragraphs only.

    “FEBRUARY 17, 2017 — Ottawa, Canada headquartered Gastops Ltd. has been selected by Eastern Shipbuilding Group to provide the Dynamic Response Analysis (DRA) for the U.S. Coast Guard’s new Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC).

    “As part of Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s team, Gastops will use computer modeling to simulate the ship’s propulsion system integration to predict and analyze ship performance and optimize control strategies during the program’s detailed design phase.”


  17. Another subcontractor identified.

    “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.”


    Babcock Marine built the Samuel Beckett class OPVs for the Irish Naval Service. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Beckett-class_offshore_patrol_vessel
    These were the immediate predecessor of the OPC in VARDs design family.

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