Eastern Shipbuilding Group has cut steel for the future USCGC Rush, the final Offshore Patrol Cutter in its four-ship series for the U.S. Coast Guard.
“USCGC Rush is part of a class of ships that boast multi-mission capabilities and the endurance to carry the men and women of the USCG for more than half a century,” said Joey D’Isernia, the president of Eastern Shipbuilding. “With more than 45 years of steel shipbuilding experience we promise the highest quality control, and we look forward to delivering the lead vessel of the class next year.”
The Coast Guard has modified the contract so that the OPC’s U.S. Navy-developed weapons system and radar will be installed during production, before each ship leaves the yard. The original contract called for post-delivery installation of these systems, but the Navy has finished its development and testing work, allowing the equipment to be installed now. ESG believes that the modification should reduce technical risk and speed up the time to first deployment.
First-in-class cutter Argus is at 75 percent completion and is now on track for a 2023 delivery date (including weapons integration), ESG says. The second hull is 50 percent complete, the third is 25 percent complete, and the fourth and final OPC should deliver in 2026.
In July, the Coast Guard awarded the next 11 hulls in the OPC series to Australian-owned Austal USA, the builder of the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship. In 2019, ESG’s original nine-ship contract was modified to four vessels and recompeted for the follow-on hulls, due in part to the impact of major hurricane damage; the yard invested heavily to win the recompete tender, but the Coast Guard ultimately selected Austal. Eastern believes that the award to Austal brings more procurement risk for the Coast Guard, and it is contesting the contract award in a court proceeding.