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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Birdon Announces Subcontracts for Waterways Commerce Cutter Builds

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

July 18, 2023

(Image: Birdon America, Inc.)

(Image: Birdon America, Inc.)

Birdon America, Inc. on Tuesday announced it has awarded the first wave of major subcontracts in support of its $1.187 billion contract to design and build 27 Waterways Commerce Cutters (WCC) for the U.S. Coast Guard. This announcement follows a successful initial Program Management Review (PMR), the first major milestone of the WCC program.

The subcontracts range in value from $10 million to $50 million and are firm-fixed price (FFP), indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) for design, development, manufacturing and delivery. Subcontract awardees in the first tranche included:

•Kern Martin Services, Inc. – Coden, Ala.L
•Hiller Marine – Mobile, Aal.
•Techcrane International – Covington, La.
•Beier Integrated Systems – Gray, La.
•LeBlanc Associates – Houma, La.
•Cummins – Charleston, S.C.

Rob Scott, President of Birdon America, Inc., said, “Birdon is moving full speed ahead with executing the WCC Program. These subcontracts are an important milestone, and we look forward to announcing additional subcontract awards soon. As a small business Birdon is always looking for opportunities to work with other small businesses and is excited to be working with Kern Martin. We appreciate the strong support and partnership from our subcontractors, and our ongoing relationship with the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Emmett Kern Martin Services, President of KMS, said, “Our company’s roots began from a small family-owned business in 1979 servicing Bayou La Batre and surrounding areas. The company has grown from our humble beginnings, and now service projects from Florida to Texas. Our team and the local community are excited about the award of the interior joiner contract for the Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) vessels. This contract will sustain and grow jobs. Our specialty is 65-foot to 250-foot offshore and inland work boats. The WCC vessels are right in our wheelhouse. KMS has a reputation for quality on-time work. We appreciate the trust that Birdon has placed in us to continue this practice with the WCC project. We look forward to partnering with Birdon to complete these vessels for the U.S. Coast Guard.”

The WCC contract is comprised of two separate but related vessel designs: the River Buoy Tender (WLR) and the Inland Construction Tender (WLIC). Both variants are complex, modern, and designed to military standards. The new cutter design will provide up to 11 days sustainment for up to 19 crew members. The 27 vessels will be constructed within a 10-year period commencing with an 18-month design finalization period.

The WCC cutters are essential to maintain and protect the United States’ intra-coastal and inland marine transportation system. This system spreads over 12,000 miles of commercially active inland waterways through which 630 million tons of cargo moves annually, accounting for more than $5.4 trillion annually and 30.7 million jobs for the U.S. economy. To support the safe and efficient flow of economic activity along these U.S. rivers, lakes, intercoastal waterways and harbors, WCCs establish and maintain over 28,200 inland aids to navigation (ATON). Additional missions include search and rescue (SAR), marine safety, marine environmental protection and security of ports, waterways and coasts.

Many of the current WCC vessels are over 70 years old. The vessels do not meet current readiness and technology standards and are increasingly expensive to maintain. This leads to operational delays, crew safety concerns and does not allow the assignment of mixed gender crews.

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