Mobile’s Austal USA awarded multi-billion dollar U.S. Coast Guard contract

Offshore Patrol Cutter
A rendering of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter. (Eastern Shipbuilding Group / U.S. Coast Guard)

American ship manufacturer Austal USA—headquartered in Mobile—was recently awarded a massive contract to build the latest class of U.S. Coast Guard cutters. The contract includes the detail, design and construction of up to 11 new Coast Guard cutters and has the potential value of $3.3 billion—one of the biggest contracts Austal USA has ever seen.

U.S. Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC)

Austal Usa
Austal USA’s headquarters in Mobile, Alabama. (Austal USA)

According to an Austal USA press release, the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) is the U.S. Coast Guard’s highest investment priority, replacing the 30 and 50-year-old cutters currently in use. The OPC will provide a solid middle ground between the Coast Guard’s national security cutters—which patrol the open ocean—and the fast response cutters, which patrol closer to the shoreline.

“The Austal USA team is excited to support the U.S. Coast Guard using our new steel panel line to manufacture and deliver ships highly capable of performing their critical homeland security and defense missions. This contract award is the result of our continued investment in our people and our facilities. We are honored the Coast Guard has selected our team of shipbuilders to deliver its most important acquisition program. We are also thrilled for our community and our tremendous supplier base as this program will provide our shipbuilding team the backlog and stability for continued growth.”

Rusty Murdaugh, President, Austal USA

360-feet from bow to stern, the OPC will have a range of 10,200 nautical miles and can operate at sea for 60 days, either independently or as part of a task group. The OPC will be capable of conducting a variety of missions, including:

  • Law enforcement
  • Drug and migrant interdiction
  • Search and rescue
  • Other homeland security and defense operations

Why Austal USA?

Austal Usa
The USS Canberra (LCS-30), an Independence-class littoral combat ship built by Austal USA for the U.S. Navy. (Austal USA)

The Offshore Patrol Cutter program began in earnest in 2016, when Eastern Shipbuilding was awarded a contract to build the first four cutters in Panama City, Florida. However, 2018’s Hurricane Michael damaged the facility and set back operations, so the Coast Guard needed to look for other options.

Recently, Austal USA opened a $100M steel shipbuilding facility in Mobile, departing from its origins as an aluminum-only shipbuilding company. That development—as well as Austal USA’s previous experience with government naval contracts—made the Mobile shipbuilder an attractive option.

The Coast Guard’s OPC contract initially grants Austal USA a $208M deal to construct the fifth OPC—then, the Coast Guard has the option to request an additional 10 ships from Austal USA. The program calls for a total of 25 cutters in all.

Austal USA is currently involved in several government naval contracts, including:

  • Navajo-class Towing, Salvage and Rescue Ships (U.S. Navy)
  • A $128M floating dry dock (U.S. Navy)
  • Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (U.S. Navy)
  • Spearhead Expeditionary Fast Transport (U.S. Navy)

What do you think about the Austal USA’s Offshore Patrol Cutter contract? Tag us @thebamabuzz to let us know!

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Nathan Watson

Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.

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