“Eastern Shipbuilding protesting Austal’s cutter win, cites ‘unfair competitive advantage’” –Breaking Defense

Future US Coast Guard’s Heritage class cutter Argus (Picture source: Eastern Shipbuilding Group)

Breaking Defense reports,

WASHINGTON: Eastern Shipbuilding Group is formally protesting a Coast Guard shipbuilding contract potentially worth billions that was awarded late last month to Austal USA, in part due to what ESG claims was an “unfair competitive advantage and conflict” among other issues.

This may further delay this much delayed program. Can’t help but wonder if OPC #1, the future USCGC Argus, will be delivered before the end of FY2022 as it had been scheduled. If not, it is going to undermine Eastern’s case as to their own competence.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

13 thoughts on ““Eastern Shipbuilding protesting Austal’s cutter win, cites ‘unfair competitive advantage’” –Breaking Defense

  1. Bottom line who owns the OPC design?/! Eastern Shipbuilding? Or the USCG? IF the latter, the USCG can have virtually anyone construct the OPC, regardless that Eastern Shipbuilders designed it…

  2. I have no doubt Austal can build the ships. They can build them faster, concurrently. The question is did they break the law aand scalp someone who had and used eastern’s pricing info on the bid.

  3. I rather doubt that Eastern had within the USCG OPC contract that they themselves were to be the Only Shipbuilder to construct the ship class…

    • Also don’t forget that Eastern was hit pretty badly by Hurricane Michael in 2018. According to the article below “However, the current prime contractor, Panama City, Fla.-based Eastern Shipbuilding Group, is having a hard time fulfilling the contract due to damage caused in 2018 by Hurricane Michael.” I’m sure they’re not happy about this but there have been concerns since they were awarded the contract if they we up to the task of such a large program.

      We need these ships way sooner than later and another delay is certainly not going to help matters.


    • It would be nice if Coast Guard budgeting were made as clear as Navy shipbuilding in their budget. We know OPC 1&2 grew to the equivalent of $535 each. That’s still a good bit cheaper than NSC and I bet the annual costs are also lower by about the same degree. That is big money from the Coast Guard perspective.

  4. Protests are a common last step on a large contract. They are a long shot that probes for any process error in the award.

    Remember why the contract was recompeted. ESG was unable to perform. They were lucky to keep four builds, and have yet to deliver a ship and the ships will be late and hundreds of millions of dollars over their bid. It also looks like there’s been drama with the ability to build the systems necessary for a cutter, but it’s been low profile in the press. I’ve never been comfortable with ESG’s hiring of a retired Commandant as their lobbyist.

    Anything can happen in a protest but this one is likely is be denied.

  5. It’s ironic. ESG, who hired former Commandant Papp, is upset over Austal USA possibly employing a former USCG official who may have had insights. That’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Regardless, Austal USA knows how to serial build to schedule, to budget, and how to integrate high-tech military systems. ESG does not, at least not yet. It’s likely that ESG will lose this protest, but I do hope that they do win further orders for the OPC, which is likely, once Austal USA starts running them down the production line. The Coast Guard wants 2 yards building these ships, and now they have them.

    • I think Congress will see the potential for two yard construction program but not until after the first OPC proves itself operational for about a year. Then they might consider accelerating the program.

      • I agree! Congress will see to it that ESG remains one of the contractors of the OPC program. Congress has invested too much in ESG with the first four of the class and funding help to repair and improve the shipyard after Hurricane Michael. From my perspective the CG now has two yards constructing the OPC. Now they just need to increase the production rate to 3 or 4 per year. And if all goes well with the program Congress just may increase the procurement above the planned 25 hulls, just like they did with NSC and FRC.

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