Austal Awarded Contract for Offshore Patrol Cutter Stage 2

Below is the announcement from Coast Guard headquarters. Some comments first.

The contract award, $208.26 million, does not actually include construction of the first cutter, presumably that will be included in the FY2023 budget. The potential value of up to “$3.33 billion if all options are exercised” equates to an average cost for 11 ships of $303M each. Keep in mind, that does not include government furnished equipment and other cost that go along with building new ships, including the precommissioning crew and its support and infrastructure improvements that may be required to accommodate these substantially larger ships. 

Given that Eastern, builder of the first four OPCs, did not win the contract, and the contract allows “flexibility to propose and implement new design elements that benefit lifecycle cost, production and operational efficiency and performance” then we can expect to have A-class and B-class OPCs. 

Considering that the Independence class LCS program is ending, this is an extremely important win for Austal and vendicates their decision to invest in steel shipbuilding.

 

 News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters

Coast Guard awards contract for Stage 2 of the Offshore Patrol Cutter Acquisition

WASHINGTON – The Coast Guard awarded a fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract to Austal USA of Mobile, Ala. to produce up to 11 offshore patrol cutters (OPCs). The initial award is valued at $208.26 million and supports detail design and long lead-time material for the fifth OPC, with options for production of up to 11 OPCs in total. The contract has a potential value of up to $3.33 billion if all options are exercised.

In 2019, the Coast Guard revised the OPC acquisition strategy to mitigate emergent cost and schedule risk by establishing a new, full and open competition for OPCs five and through 15, designated as Stage 2 of the overall program. Informed by industry feedback received through a robust engagement strategy, the Coast Guard released a request for proposal Jan. 29, 2021, for OPC Stage 2 detail design and production. The Coast Guard’s requirements for OPC Stage 2 detail design and production were developed to maintain commonality with earlier OPCs in critical areas such as the hull and propulsion systems, but provide flexibility to propose and implement new design elements that benefit lifecycle cost, production and operational efficiency and performance.

“The offshore patrol cutter is absolutely vital to Coast Guard mission excellence as we recapitalize our legacy medium endurance cutters, some of which are more than 50 years old,” said Adm. Linda Fagan, commandant of the Coast Guard. “The OPCs are the ships our crews need to protect our national security, maritime safety and economic prosperity. I look forward to the new cutters joining our fleet.”

The 25-ship OPC program of record complements 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. The OPC will meet 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 non-citizens, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting ports.

More information about the award can be found here.

15 thoughts on “Austal Awarded Contract for Offshore Patrol Cutter Stage 2

  1. It will be interesting to see how they plan to assemble them. I bet they build the steel hull on the west bank and barge it over to integrate with the aluminum deck house in the existing assembly halls. Dimensionally they will fit the 3 larger halls easily compared to LCS.

  2. I’m wondering how much risk the CG have taken on board by selecting Austal. I’m not a massive fan of their military/coast guard aluminium products, they aren’t sufficiently robust. Just because they’ve made the move to steel doesn’t solve the problems. Awarding such a significant contract to a company who will. in essence, be learning on the job may be a decision that will be regretted at a later stage. Perhaps a case of less haste, more speed…

    • I think the Mobile Talent pool can help with that. Knowledgeable steel building people were already there. My guess is they will contract with Vard for the design and it will only differ for ease of build with their existing equipment and facility.

    • One thing I’m very confident of, is the CG has completely lost all sense at picking ship contractors. Bollinger, Eastern, and now Austal….

      None of these yards should get another dime of taxpayer money…

  3. ESG was way out of their depth. Austal should be able to handle the OPC well. I sailed on the Dauntless, a B class 210. They were dramatically better than the A class. The big question for me is can they clean up the design and who is their subcontractor for mission systems?

    • I wish we understood if the tugs will be assembled at the steel yard or across the river. I assume the floating dry dock build will be completed entirely on the west bank. They could be on the verge of being a powerhouse builder of small ships. Helps to make a case for an OPC derived light frigate.

  4. The graphic implies it’ll have a 57mm gun. Any updates on the supposed guided 57mm shells, and variants like air burst, that Leonardo have had for decades, but the US seems to be perpetually “in development”?

    As an aside, I’m really surprised an Australian company, of all countries, has managed to to become a mainstay of US naval ships, albeit low end. The US and Europe have many companies- how did Austal become so successful? Any ideas? Australia isn’t a place you think of for shipbuilding companies, especially military ones.

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