PANAMA CITY, Fla. - The United States Coast Guard held a ceremony today in honor of the Project Resident Office (PRO) opening for it's Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) Acquisition Program. The PRO will provide on-site management for the program.
Eighty active duty and civilian coast guard personnel will staff the office. They'll monitor the budget, schedule, and contract performance to make sure the program is running successfully.
In September 2016, the Coast Guard announced it would be signing a 10.5 billion dollar contract with Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City.
"When Eastern put their proposal in and competed against the other ones, they were selected as having the best value for the program, and it's the first time that Eastern has built a class of ships, so this is the biggest Coast Guard acquisition in our history," said U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Michael Haycock.
The Coast Guard plans to acquire twenty five OPC's. The first one is scheduled for delivery in the 2021 fiscal year.
"We're in the detailed design phase, which is twenty four months, and roughly six months of that has expired so we have eighteen more months of detailed design. Then we'll start cutting steel for the first cutter," said Eastern Shipbuilding Group CEO Brian D'Isernia.
The OPC's will have state of the market technology, increasing the guard's capabilities on missions.
"You need a ship that can get there relatively quickly, but economically. And then you need a ship that has the ability to sprint. To chase after narcotics trafficking vessels, and also stay on station for long periods of time. So this ship has some of those capabilities," said Admiral Haycock.
Admiral Haycock says that these OPC's will be the workhorse fleet.
"These things will ply the waters of the Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast. They'll be out past Hawaii and the Western Pacific, by the Carribbean and Gulf areas. There's few places these ships can't go, and they're ready for Sea State 5, so they can go into the treacherous waters of Alaska and the North Atlantic," said Admiral Haycock.
At it's peak, the project will employ over one thousand people.
The OPC's are built to be operational for thirty years, but, as the Coast Guard makes changes and upgrades to the ships, it could be upwards of sixty years.
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