BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — The first three ships in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Offshore Cutter Project are well under construction.
Coast Guard representatives joined the Eastern Shipbuilding Group Friday morning to update community leaders on their progress. The shipyard said the first cutter is about halfway complete.
“You think about the cutter itself, it’s a floating city,” said Captain Andrew Meverden the Commanding officer of the Offshore Cutter Project Resident Office.
Three of these floating cities are all under construction at Bay County Eastern Shipbuilding.
“We have a fleet of offshore cutters that currently exist 210-foot cutters, 270-foot cutters, that are well beyond their service life,” said Meverden.
During the Bay County Chamber’s First Friday event, Meverden explained how the new cutters are key for maritime security and also vital for Bay County’s economic transformation, by adding more jobs not just tourism-related.
“We sit at around 1400 direct and subcontract employees,” said Eastern Shipbuilding Joey Disernia. “We intend to hire several hundred more for this effort. The interesting thing about shipbuilding is for every shipbuilding job it spurs two and a half indirect jobs.”
Disernia said the first cutter should be delivered by the end of the next year.
“We will be launching it here in the next few months. Which will be exciting. We are well into construction on the second offshore patrol cutter and we just recently started the third,” said Disernia.
About 50% of the first cutter is complete. The next step will be fitting it with sewer lines and electric wiring.
“I’m envious of the men and women that get to sail this new asset once the Coast Guard takes delivery,” said Captain Meverden.
Eastern is building the first four cutters but they have submitted another bid for cutters five through 15.