The Navy League’s online magazine “Seapower” reports,
Bollinger Shipyards submitted on March 18 its final proposal to the United States Coast Guard to build Stage 2 of the Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter program. If chosen, Bollinger would construct and deliver a total of 11 vessels to the U.S. Coast Guard over the next decade, helping to sustain the Bollinger workforce through 2031.
It is obviously a Bollinger press release, talking about how much good it would do for the local economy, but it does occur to me…
If we have two truly competitive bids, this could be an opportunity to have two shipyards building Offshore Patrol Cutters.
The program is already too long delayed. The phase II contract proposals are likely to be very competitive. In March 2020, contracts for industry studies were awarded to nine different yards.
- Austal USA of Mobile, AL
- General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works (GD/BIW) of Bath, ME
- Bollinger Shipyards Lockport of Lockport, LA
- Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) of Panama City, FL
- Fincantieri Marinette Marine (F/MM) of Marinette, WS
- General Dynamics/National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (GD/NASSCO) of San Diego, CA
- Huntington Ingalls Industries/Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII/Ingalls) of Pascagoula, MS
- Philly Shipyard of Philadelphia, PA
- VT Halter Marine Inc. of Pascagoula, MS
I know at least three yards, Eastern, Huntington Ingalls and Bollinger, and probably more, are submitting proposals for building first a single OPCs with options to build ten more. With Eastern already building the first four, this gives the Coast Guard the opportunity to contract for the remaining 21 ships based on the bids that will be received this year.
We could have the entire program completed by 2032 instead of 2038 and avoid the complication of a probably much less competitive phase III competition to build the last ten ships. Six years earlier completion would also probably allow us to avoid the expense of the life extension program planned for six of the WMEC 270s.
It would cost more in those years but this project really should have been funded ten to twenty years ago. It would be a big plus up for the PC&I budget but only a few percent increase compared to the Coast Guard’s total budget, small compared to the DHS budget and microscopic to the entire federal budget. It would align with the national objective of growing our naval shipbuilding capabilities, and further stimulate the economy. It might not be too hard to get Congressional support.
It would also provide a hedge against a natural disaster further delaying construction.