ALLANTON, Fla. (WMBB) — It appears Eastern Shipbuilding Group is preparing to take the US Coast Guard to federal court.

The company dropped its protest with the general accounting office on Tuesday and announced it would seek answers through a different legal path.

Eastern filed the protest in July after the Coast Guard awarded the contract for stage two of the offshore patrol cutter to Austal USA based in Mobile, Alabama.

The $3.3 billion contract essentially gives the next 11 ships to Austal.

Eastern is building the first four. They had hoped to build all 25 of the new-generation cutters; however, the Coast Guard went with Austal.

Typically, a protest allows other companies the opportunity to examine the winning bid, but Eastern Shipbuilding Group officials claim the Coast Guard refused to hand over any documents. Additionally, the GAO does not have the authority to require the Coast Guard to comply.

Eastern management is apparently preparing to file a lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims.

The court has the authority to order the Coast Guard to hand over relevant documents and evidence.

It’s possible a drawn-out court battle could delay the cutter program by months, even years.