Coast Guard releases draft OPC solicitation
The Coast Guard released June 15 its long-awaited draft request for proposals for its Offshore Patrol Cutter, a planned fleet of 25 medium-endurance cutters part of the service's ongoing recapitalization program.
A concept of operations (.pdf) included as part of the draft RFP says the OPC should be able to operate on patrols lasting up to 60 days with 2-3 day logistics breaks after every 14 days of operation for a total of up to 230 days away from home port annually. The OPC will typically operate about 12 nautical miles beyond shore and drug interdiction will be its first priority mission (search and rescue and other law enforcement activities aren't programmed as priorities since they occur as needed, the Coast Guard says).
The service expanded the planned OPC operating environment to include Arctic climates, the concept of operations says, meaning that it would be placed in sea where there are areas of broken plate, pancake, and sea ice 10 to 30 inches thick during the summer. The OPC will not conduct ice breaking as a mission, however, the Coast Guard says.
The service also altered the concept of operations to specify that the OPC should be able to launch and recover small boats and aircraft in weather conditions up to and including sea state five. The ship will not have a stern launch ramp, a decision Coast Guard officials have said is a necessary cost-cutting measures. The ship should be able to conduct prolonged operations in wave heights of up to 14 meters, i.e., sea state 8.
According to a November 2010 Coast Guard industry day presentation (.pdf) the OPC should have a range of up to 9,500 nautical miles at 14 knots sustained speed and a top speed of up to 25 knots.