First Look at new OPC Acquisition Strategy, “Coast Guard Issues RFI for Offshore Patrol Cutter” –MarineLink

Thanks to MarineLink for bringing this to my attention.

The Coast Guard apparently wants a rapid response, “Responses to this RFI must be received no later than 11:00 a.m. eastern time (ET) November 6, 2019,” but otherwise we are not in such a big hurry, as I will explain below.

I will replicate the RFI at the end, but the notional schedule tells us a lot about the currently envisioned acquisition strategy.

Notional Schedule:

You can find the Notional Schedule here. Attachment_1-Notional_Schedule.pdf  Basically it looks like a restart from ground zero.

  • There is to be an Industry Studies RFP Released in mid FY2020
  • Draft Spec are to be released third quarter of FY2020 (don’t we already have not just draft specs but detailed specs?)
  • Draft DD&C RFP at the beginning of FY 2021
  • Detailed Design &Construction RFP Released Second Quarter FY2021
  • Award for Detail Design & Lead Ship Construction does not happen until late FY2022.
  • Again we expect to only build one ship per year for the first three ships before transitioning to two ship a year.
  • The final to OPC would not be delivered until the fourth quarter of FY2037

It appears there are 33 months between the issuance of this RFI and award for Detail Design & Lead Ship Construction and 45 months between the RFI and start of construction of OPC#5. After as much planning and effort has gone into the design of these ships, that has got to be wrong.

The fourteenth OPC will not replace the last 210 until fourth quarter FY2032. That 210 will be over 63 years old. The last 270 decommissioned will be at least 48 years old. I’m sorry, that is ludicrous.

Something is terribly wrong here. Why are we paying for multiple detail designs? This will mean we will have at least two class, even if they may look alike. Did Eastern never complete the detail design as they were contracted to do? Why not demand the detail design as a condition of contract relief? These ships are long overdue. Where is the sense of urgency?

The RFI below does seem to open some additional possibilities including awarding contracts for construction to more than one yard, construction of more than two ships per year, and block buy contracting.

The possibility of multiple detail designs from multiple shipyards, “…the USCG intends to release a solicitation for multiple-award, Government-funded Industry Studies to prospective prime Shipbuilders for an OPC Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) contract” is troubling and raises the possibility of a proliferation of detail designs within the class that is certainly undesirable.

If we persist in this slow approach to construction of the rest of the class, perhaps we should make them faster, quieter, and better armed so they would make better warships if we have to engage in a major naval conflict in the future.


Request For Information:

Solicitation Number: RFI-USCG-OPC-2020-1
Notice Type: Special Notice
Added: Oct 18, 2019 12:01 pm

This Request for Information (RFI) issued by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) is for information and planning purposes only. It does not constitute a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a promise to issue an RFP in the future. No contract award will be made based on any responses to this notice. The Government is not responsible for any costs associated with providing information in response to this RFI and no reimbursement will be made for any cost associated with effort expended in responding to this notice.

Submission of proprietary information is not requested, and respondents shall refrain to the maximum extent practical from providing proprietary information in response to this RFI. If respondents volunteer to provide proprietary information, clearly mark such proprietary information appropriately and separate it from the unrestricted information as an appendix.

Responses to this RFI must be received no later than 11:00 a.m. eastern time (ET) November 6, 2019. Respondents shall email responses to the following email address: Please direct any questions regarding the posting of this RFI to the attention of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) Program at To assist the Government with tracking responses, please reference “Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC)” and company’s name in the subject line. Telephonic responses will not be accepted. Follow-up discussions may be conducted with respondents.


On October 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security approved and granted extraordinary relief to Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc., on its OPC contract, for up to four hulls as a result of the impact of Hurricane Michael (DHS & USCG press releases are available at the following links: and

The USCG is now working to further develop and finalize its acquisition strategy for completing the OPC Program of Record of 25 hulls. The purpose of this RFI is to obtain feedback on a notional OPC acquisition approach and schedule for completing the OPC Program of Record as soon as possible.

Notional Approach & Schedule

Attachment 1 is a notional schedule that outlines a high-level acquisition approach where multiple Government-funded Industry Studies contracts may be awarded to assist in the refinement and completion of the existing OPC Detail Design and the development of a Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) solicitation to facilitate delivery of affordable OPCs to the fleet as quickly as possible, while reducing program risk over the course of the Program of Record. Under this approach, it is anticipated that upon completion of Industry Studies, the USCG would award one or more competitive contract(s) for completing the Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) of OPCs (emphasis applied–Chuck) in a continued effort to fulfill the USCG’s Program of Record requirements for 25 OPCs.

In order to meet the OPC Program’s operational fleet needs, it is assumed that Shipbuilders would utilize the mature parts of the existing OPC functional design (emphasis applied–Chuck)– to the maximum extent possible – and mature any incomplete aspects of the detail design. The existing functional design, including selected 2D design drawings, calculations, and diagrams, will be made available for Industry Studies contract awardees and will not be warranted by the Government. While schedule is a major driver, program affordability must remain a constant consideration.

Industry Studies Contracts: In early FY20, the USCG intends to release a solicitation for multiple-award, Government-funded Industry Studies to prospective prime Shipbuilders for an OPC Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) contract. (emphasis applied–Chuck) It is anticipated that the Government will award Industry  Studies contracts to Shipbuilders able to build (i.e., with a certified launch facility), design (i.e., Shipbuilders with in-house design capability or a designer as a team member), and have the capacity to deliver (i.e., within the shipyard’s current build schedule) OPCs featuring Command and Control, Navigation, Aviation, and Navy-furnished Combat systems no later than the dates included in the notional schedule below. As part of the Industry Studies solicitation, the Government may provide a draft OPC System Specification, technical data package, and draft DD&C Statement of Work. This data describes a basic OPC functional design, which has completed a Critical Design Review. Shipbuilders may be required to use this non-warranted data as the basis for completing an affordable Detail Design of the OPC on an accelerated delivery timeline. An overview (placemat) of this functional design will also be provided to Industry Study awardees. As part of Industry Studies, the Government is interested in understanding how the 2D functional design will be transitioned and incorporated into a final 3D production design for OPC construction at each Shipbuilder’s facility. It is anticipated that each Shipbuilder will conduct several cost, schedule, capability and technical studies to support validation and refinement of its proposed OPC Detail Design and transition to a production design. The results of the Industry Studies will further inform a Government RFP for an OPC DD&C contract.

Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) Contract(s): The Program intends to release an RFP, through separate full and open competition, leading to award of Long Lead Time Material (LLTM) and DD&C for OPCs in an effort to complete the OPC Program of Record of 25 hulls.

The OPC Program seeks industry feedback on the notional program schedule (Attachment 1) as well as industry feedback on how construction of OPCs could be further accelerated and how acceleration would affect program risk and cost.

 Requested Information from Industry

Acquisition Strategy Feedback

1. Given the publicly-available information and description provided above on the status of the OPC program, please provide a recommended contracting approach for the USCG to obtain Long Lead Time Material (LLTM), Detail Design, and Construction of OPCs in an effort to complete its Program of Record of 25 hulls. Describe perceived risks, impediments to competition, and opportunities available to the USCG to incentivize robust industry interest and competition and maintain program affordability. Examples of other input being sought includes, but is not limited to, contract type, Industry Studies scope of work, performance incentives, evaluation criteria, source selection approach, etc.

2. Identify risks with the notional approach described in this RFI, suggest measures to mitigate risk, and identify potential opportunities to accelerate the notional schedule, while maintaining program affordability.

3. Provide a notional plan of action and milestones for how your company would meet or accelerate the delivery dates depicted in the notional schedule provided in this RFI, while maintaining program affordability.

4. Identify how your company would approach using a Government-provided, non-warranted functional design to construct one or more OPCs. Discuss any potential technical risks associated with refining/completing an existing design from industry’s perspective. Describe your company’s preferred approach to completing an OPC production design, based on the notional schedule outlined in this request, and how your company views a requirement to utilize a non-warranted functional design data package.

5. Provide input on the potential use of a block buy contracting approach (emphasis applied–Chuck) during the course of the program and recommendations for incorporation of such an approach if your company deems that block buy contracting is feasible. Also, if your company deems that block buy contracting is not feasible, explain the rationale against using this approach.

6. Indicate if constructing two hulls per year is feasible and provide your company’s expected shipbuilding capacity with respect to constructing multiple hulls per year. (emphasis applied–Chuck) Any recommendations or input on the overall production schedule are encouraged.

Respondent Company Information

7. Please provide the current status of the DFARS-based certifications or approvals of your company’s: 1) Accounting System (DFARS 252.244-7006); 2) Earned Value Management System (DFARS 252.234-7002); 3) Purchasing System (DFARS 252.244-7001); and 4) Estimating System (DFARS 252.215-7002).

8. Aspects of this program will require access to Secret material. Please address your company’s ability to meet personnel and facility security requirements.

9. Provide one recent example of your company’s experience in delivering ships featuring C5ISR, Navigation, Aviation, and Combat Systems, and identify major subcontractors used to manage development, construction, and/or integration of those systems. (emphasis applied, not going with any inexperienced shipyard this time. Eastern will not have delivered such a ship when this submission is required and may disqualify them from the recompete –Chuck)

10. Provide a yard-loading schedule that demonstrates your company’s expected shipbuilding capacity to support the OPC program and its planned serial, multiple-hull build approach.

11. Indicate your company’s interest in participating in the potential future Industry Studies and DD&C contracts.


12 thoughts on “First Look at new OPC Acquisition Strategy, “Coast Guard Issues RFI for Offshore Patrol Cutter” –MarineLink

  1. This data describes a basic OPC functional design, which has completed a Critical Design Review.

    So here’s what I thought was going to happen. The Coast Guard has realized that Eastern Shipbuilding may not be as proficient with a significant and more technically challenging design than it’s used to, particularly after the hurricane. Now they want to see if other, more capable yards, are able to come at this production run differently, apply best of class military shipyard practices, and produce the 25 remaining vessels at or lower than was projected from Eastern.

    In essence, there will be at least 2 ‘versions’, the Eastern Shipbuilding version, let’s call that Flight I, then Flight II will be produced by a second yard (unless Eastern gets its act together), and Flight III MAY be a full-out competition between the two yards. At a minimum, Eastern was thrown a bone, giving them 4 hulls at an increased contract value, recognizing that they – and their community – need the work.

    While many of us liked the design, don’t be surprised if it gets revised a bit. VARD is a good designer, and its parent craft serve ably in Ireland and elsewhere. But what will be really interesting is the timing. In my opinion, the timing of this award falls smack after the award of the FFG(X) contract, which throws another bone to one of the two LCS shipyards (can you say Fincantieri Marinette Marine), particularly if they’ve done Coast Guard work previously, and have modern production (Saudi FFGs) and available capacity (ending Saudi FFGs) coming on line.

    Of course, if FMM gets additional work, then one wonders ‘did Austal win’, or were they given additional hulls based on the EPF or even more Indy LCS?

    There’s no way that BIW, with Burke Flight III work, gets OPCs as well. Just my 2 cents.

  2. I wonder what yards have the capacity and expertise to bid on this project? I still think Vigor would be a good shipyard for this size of project, and it would be nice to get away from the Gulf.

  3. Pingback: “Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” –CRS, October 21, 2019, A New Version Reflects RFI | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  4. Pingback: “House Passes FY 2020 Coast Guard Funding Bill Backs Icebreaker, Limits OPC Program” –USNI | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  5. From CG-9. Note unless you have a valid approved DD2345 you will not be able to access.

    The Coast Guard opened access to the offshore patrol cutter (OPC) technical library Aug. 3. Instructions for accessing the OPC technical library can be found as Notice USCG-OPCSTAGE2-2020 at

    The OPC technical library supports the Coast Guard’s full and open OPC re-compete strategy by providing updated design information that reflects the current state of OPC acquisition activities to potential offerors. Using the information provided in the OPC technical library, potential offerors are able to conduct detail design analysis and development based on the latest technical information.

    The OPC technical library was developed as an alternative to release of a consolidated draft request for proposal and is an acquisition best practice previously used by the Polar Security Cutter Integrated Program Office managed by the Coast Guard and U.S. Navy. The Coast Guard anticipates this approach will enable offerors to submit sound proposals for OPC follow-on production and maintain a strong competitive acquisition environment as the program conducts a new competition to complete the OPC program of record. The Coast Guard will periodically update the technical library as new information becomes available.

    The OPC acquisition program 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 and waterways. 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 maritime security strategy.

    For more information: Offshore Patrol Cutter program page

  6. Chuck or anyone, Question… is the OPC being build with a ice strengthen hull? I know it’s not an ice-breaker, but I see that third and forth units (Ingham & Rush) are to be homeported in Kodiak, AK. I assume to replacement USCGC Douglas Munro (WHEC-724) & USCGC Alex Haley (WMEC-39). Also I assume that part of the duties is to patrol into the Arctic Area during the summer thaw season. ???

    • Initially I thought they were to be ice strengthened. All the 255s were, but no it turns out they will not be. Some of them probably should be. The ships stationed in Kodiak now are not specifically ice strengthened, although the Hailey is very strongly built.

      If the OPCs do typical ALPATS, they may never actually go above the Arctic cycle. Most of the fishing, nearly all in fact, is South of Bering Strait which is slightly south of the Arctic circle.

  7. “Coast Guard provides draft solicitation for offshore patrol cutter”

    Again we are rushing the contractors, they have less than three weeks to respond (Oct. 30), while the Coast Guard seems to be taking their own sweet time. Still we should see the RFP “early” this FY. Yes it is already FY2021 even if we do not have a budget yet.

  8. “USCG intends to acquire up to 11 medium endurance Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) of
    similar design which will be fully operational, and sustainable over a projected 40 year life cycle.
    This solicitation seeks a shipbuilder which can create a production design, and produce OPCs
    that possess all the current OPC capabilities, per the notional schedule, and provide long term
    sustainability and affordability with minimum production risk while complying with USCG
    technical and management requirements.”

    If I am reading this correctly it appears that contractor may submit their own design as long as it possesses all the current OPC capabilitie and is the same length and beam. So we could see that hulls 4-14 could be pf a dirfferent design and hopefully and more capable one.

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