PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Eastern Shipbuilding continues to protest the Coast Guard’s decision to award the second phase of the cutter contract to another company.
The $3.3 billion contract was granted to Austal USA in July.
Three weeks ago the company filed a lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims.
“It’s a stunning decision that makes absolutely no sense,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio said. “I mean, I know of no one interested in the program who can justify, you know, why you would give some company with no experience ever having done this, the entirety of the second phase.”
Rubio said Eastern Shipbuilding already has the infrastructure in place to build the next 11 cutter ships, but he’s unsure if Austal USA can meet the terms in its contract.
“It’s located in a place where the workforce is already here at a time when it’s hard to find the workforce,” Rubio said. “So I have real doubts about whether the other bidder can even keep the conditions of their contract that they’ve submitted.”
Rubio said it’s pivotal to keep this work in Florida because it provides good jobs.
“It’s important for Eastern because they’ve invested so much in making this happen,” Rubio said. “You know, this was already faced tremendous challenges after Michael to be able to get back up and running after that. And to be able to deliver the way they have on schedule and the quality of the work.”
The court has the authority to order the Coast Guard to hand over relevant documents and evidence regarding how they selected Austal USA over Eastern Shipbuilding.