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Coast Guard awards 3 Offshore Patrol Cutter design contracts

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The Coast Guard announced Feb. 11 that it awarded firm-fixed price contracts to three firms for the design phase of the Offshore Patrol Cutter acquisition.

The three contracts go to Bollinger Shipyards Lockport of Lockport, La., Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, Fla., and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine. 

The contracts are collectively worth approximately $65 million; individual contracts vary from $21.4 million to $21.975 million.

The Coast Guard will select one shipbuilder's design from among the three as the Offshore Patrol Cutter, making a downselect in about 18 months, said Coast Guard spokesman Brian Olexy.

The Coast Guard recapitalization plan calls for 25 OPCs as the replacement for the aging medium endurance cutter fleet. The average age of a MEC today is 46 years, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp told a House hearing earlier this month.

A service reauthorization bill (H.R. 4005) proposed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee would require the service to submit a Homeland Security Department-approved plan for the decommissioning of 210 foot medium endurance cutters and for extending the life of 270 foot medium endurance cutters.

OPC procurement has taken longer than initially expected. At one point, Papp delayed it in order to reassess its requirements. He told a March 2012 Senate panel that when he began his four year tenure as commandant in 2010, the Coast Guard was "looking for something that was going to cost way too much. I reemphasized the affordability while still keeping a capable ship."

Unlike other major recapitalization ships, the National Security Cutter and Fast Response Cutter, the OPCs will lack a stern launching ramp.

For more:
- read a blog post by close Coast Guard observer Chuck Hill on the OPC contract
- read the Coast Guard announcement
- see the contract announcement on FBO.gov

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