PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Department of Homeland Security announced Friday Eastern Shipbuilding Group will receive limited extraordinary contract relief, allowing them to charge a little bit of extra money to build U.S. Coast Guard cutters.
Eastern Shipbuilding won the contract to build nine out of the 25 cutters for the Coast Guard, but the main shipyard in Allanton suffered major damage during Hurricane Michael.
The contract variance will allow them more money to repair facilities, but there is a downside. Eastern will now build the first four ships, and then the Coast Guard will rebid the contract.
“Eastern Shipbuilding’s request for extraordinary relief was carefully considered,” said Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Karl L. Schultz. “This review validated the essential contributions the OPC will provide to our national security and determined that providing the necessary relief in this exceptional situation is consistent with the law, fiscally responsible, and the most expeditious and responsible way to deliver the OPC and its essential and improved capabilities for the benefit of the American public and our national and homeland security.”
The announcement got reaction from several state lawmakers. You can read statements from Governor Ron DeSantis, Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and Congressman Neal Dunn below.
This is great news for Northwest Florida and our entire state. One year ago, Hurricane Michael devastated this community and we’ve been working hard every day since to rebuild and recover. Without this extraordinary relief, countless jobs for Floridians would have been lost and our national defense would have been diminished. Acting Secretary McAleenan realized this, and I thank him for this decision.”Gov. Ron DeSantis
Today’s announcement provides much-needed certainty for the Coast Guard and Northwest Florida’s communities. Hurricane Michael had a devastating impact on our local economy, including impeding the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter project and subsequently jeopardizing thousands of local jobs. I am grateful the administration took action to protect America’s national security and continue Florida’s recovery from one of the most destructive storms to ever make landfall.”Senator Marco Rubio
Since Hurricane Michael hit last year, I’ve been fighting to make sure Florida families and businesses have everything they need to fully recover and get back to their normal lives. I applaud the Coast Guard’s decision to continue the Offshore Patrol Cutter project in Panama City as the community keeps working to rebuild from the storm. This is incredible news for the local economy and the many families who depend on these jobs, and ensures the Coast Guard has the resources it needs to protect our national security.”Senator Rick Scott
I applaud the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to continue construction of the Offshore Patrol Cutter in Panama City. Despite sustaining a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Michael just one year ago, the Florida Panhandle remains the best place to build these critical vessels and get them in to the hands of our Coasties as quickly as possible. I would particularly like to recognize President Trump and his team for their steadfast diligence in working with us throughout this process.”Congressman Neal Dunn