Eastern Lays Keel for Second Offshore Patrol Cutter
Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. (ESG) on Monday held a keel authentication ceremony for the U.S. Coast Guard’s future Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), USCGC Chase (WMSM-916), at its Nelson Street facility in Panama City, Fla.
The 360-foot vessel is the second of the Heritage-class OPC being built by Eastern to replace the Coast Guard's 210-foot and 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutters. The series' first vessel, USCGC Argus, is scheduled to be delivered in 2022.
“Here at Eastern we start each day with the recognition that we are building a new era of cutters for the young women and men of the United States Coast Guard who will sail in them on critical National Security missions for decades to come. From our 1,300 family members to your nearly 60,000 active duty, reserve, and civilian workforce… our pledge remains the same – these cutters will always get you home,” ESG president Joey D’Isernia said during Monday's ceremony.
D’Isernia was accompanied on the podium by Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and Cory Brooks, the expert welder charged with welding the sponsor’s initials onto the ceremonial keel authentication plate. The ship’s sponsor, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, also delivered remarks.
Last month, ESG was awarded contract modifications to begin construction of the third OPC, future USCGC Ingham, and to purchase long lead materials for hull four, USCGC Rush.
The Coast Guard has plans to build at least 11 OPCs, designed to conduct multiple missions in support of the nation’s maritime security and border protection. The OPC will provide a capability bridge between the national security cutter, which patrols the open ocean in the most demanding maritime environments, and the fast response cutter, which serves closer to shore. The OPC design includes the capability of carrying an MH-60 or MH-65 helicopter and three operational Over The-Horizon small boats. The vessel is also equipped with a highly sophisticated combat system and C5ISR suite that will enhance capabilities to execute the service’s missions.