Tag Archives: USCGC Reliance (WMEC-615)

Five-Pack of 210s Still Getting it Done, with 250+ years on their hulls

We’ve talked a lot in the past on the humble yet dependable 210-foot Reliance-class gunboats/patrol craft (WPG/WPC) that, completed in the 1960s, still regularly hold the line for the Coast Guard as “medium endurance cutters” (WMEC).

Designed to replace the 125-foot Prohibition-era “Buck and a Quarters” and salve the looming block obsolescence of the remaining 255-foot Owasco-class and 311-foot Barnegat-class cutters (converted seaplane tenders) from World War II, the 210s hit the fleet with a large heli deck and a CODAG engineering suite, both new things at the time.

1973 Jane’s listing

While two of the 16 (Courageous and Durable) have been disposed of– albeit still operating with the Sri Lanka and Colombian Navies— the other 14 Reliance-class cutters will continue to serve until the (now delayed) 350-foot Offshore Patrol Cutter reaches the fleet sometime in the next several years.

No less than four of those 14 returned from lengthy patrol deployments this last week, while a fifth is still underway off the coast of South America:

The crew of the USCGC Vigilant (WMEC 617) returned to their homeport in Cape Canaveral, Saturday following a 48-day patrol in the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Straits.

An unseaworthy vessel floats at sea after its passengers were transferred to the USCGC Vigilant (WMEC 617), on Oct. 17, 2022. Vigilant completed a 48-day Florida Straits patrol in support of the Coast Guard’s Seventh District to detect, deter, and intercept unsafe and illegal maritime ventures bound for the United States. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)

In support of the Coast Guard’s Seventh District, Vigilant conducted search and rescue missions for Hurricane Ian off the Coast of Fort Lauderdale, and migrant interdiction operations in the South Florida Straits, working with multiple Coast Guard and joint interagency assets to detect, deter, and intercept unsafe and illegal maritime ventures bound for the United States.

During the patrol, Vigilant’s crew interdicted 11 overloaded and unseaworthy vessels carrying 146 Cuban nationals. In one case, Vigilant’s crew rescued 14 adults and one child who were at sea for six days without food and water. The migrants had been surviving on cooling water from the vessel’s engine. Vigilant’s crew provided critical first aid, food, and water.

In another case, Vigilant’s crew rescued 27 migrants from a sinking vessel during high winds and heavy seas. Overall, Vigilant’s crew cared for 833 Cuban migrants interdicted by various Coast Guard and other Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast law enforcement entities working within the Florida Straits.

The crew of the USCGC Dependable (WMEC 626) returned to their homeport in Virginia Beach, Saturday, following a 29-day patrol in the Florida Straits.

Coast Guard Cutter Dependable (USCG photo)

In support of the Coast Guard’s Seventh District, Dependable’s crew conducted migrant interdiction operations, collaborating with numerous Coast Guard assets and Department of Homeland Security boats and aircraft to detect, deter, and intercept unsafe and illegal ventures bound for the United States.

During the patrol, Dependable’s crew assisted with the interdiction of 193 migrants and cared for a total of 297 migrants that were interdicted by various Coast Guard and other law enforcement entities working within the Florida Straits.

The Coast Guard Cutter Active (WMEC 618) and crew returned to their homeport Friday after a 65-day patrol in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean near Central and South America.

Coast Guard Cutter Active (WMEC 618) crewmembers aboard the cutter’s 26-foot Small Boat pull alongside the Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC 623) to transfer parts and provisions while the cutters patrol the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Sept. 20, 2022. Active’s crew returned to their homeport Saturday after a 65-day patrol in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean near Central and South America. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Shane Sexton.

During this patrol, the Active’s crew rendezvoused with Coast Guard Cutters Steadfast (WMEC 623) and Bertholf (WMSL 750) to conduct joint operations. Active’s crew also partnered with maritime patrol aircrews from Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S) who aid in the detection of ships suspected of drug smuggling.
Crewmembers aboard Active transited more than 10,000 nautical miles from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the southern hemisphere during the patrol. The crew sighted an abundance of marine wildlife throughout the patrol and rescued sea turtles trapped in fishing gear.

The Active’s crew departed Port Angeles on September 1 and transited to San Diego for a logistics stop. While in San Diego, the crew completed unscheduled repairs, enabling the Active to continue its southbound journey along the coast of Mexico and Central America in pursuit of illegal drug smuggling vessels.

The crew of USCGC Reliance (WMEC 615) returned to their homeport in Pensacola Friday, following a 67-day Caribbean Sea patrol.

A response boat crew member steers toward the Coast Guard Cutter Reliance during a patrol in the Atlantic Ocean.

During the patrol, Reliance’s crew collaborated with numerous Coast Guard assets and other Department of Homeland Security boats and aircraft to detect, deter, and intercept unsafe and illegal ventures to the United States.

In support of the Coast Guard’s Seventh District, Reliance primarily patrolled the South Florida Straits, south of the Florida Keys, and the Windward passage, off the northwest coast of Haiti, contributing to the interdiction and care of 613 migrants and 13 detainees. Additionally, Reliance’s crew repatriated 120 migrants to Santiago, Cuba, marking the first visit by a U.S. warship to the port in more than 50 years.

210 Feet of Familiar

Any coastwise American those who earned their sealegs will take one look at this image from the Royal Navy and, while they may not be able to pinpoint which of the Queen’s surface combatants is in the background right off of their head, the profile of the gray warship in the foreground is recognizable as a Reliance-class Coast Guard cutter.

Nice to see a ship that has never been capable of going faster than 18 knots with a bone in her teeth!

For the record, the two ships are Type 23 (Duke class) frigate HMS Kent (F78) and the Sri Lankan Navy’s SLNS Samudura (P261), the latter the former USCGC Courageous (WMEC-622), captured in a pass-ex together in the Indian Ocean as the HMS Queen Elizabeth CGS21 heads back to the UK from a Pacific cruise.

Courageous, built as WPC-622 on the shores of Lake Erie at ASBC in Lorain, Ohio in the mid-1960s, and was commissioned 19 April 1968, making her 54 years old.

This black and white photo shows a newly commissioned Reliance (WMEC-615) with an HH-52 Sea Guard helicopter landing on its pad and davits down with one of its small boats deployed. Notice the lack of smokestack and paint scheme pre-dating the Racing Stripe or “U.S. Coast Guard” paint schemes. She has a 3″/50 forward as well as 20mm cannons for AAA work and weight and space for Mousttraps, a towed sonar, and Mk.32 ASW tubes, although they were never fitted. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Reliance class, originally laid down as patrol craft (WPCs) were the final American maritime vessels equipped from the start with WWII-era 3″/50 manually-laid deck guns. The main feature of the class was their huge helicopter deck– capable of handling the Coast Guard’s version of the HH-3 Jolly Green Giant– and a CODAG engineering plant, a dramatic change from the service’s 255-foot circa 1945 cutters. They cost about $3.4 million per hull, in 1964 dollars.

1973 Jane’s listing

Originally stationed in Puerto Rico then shifted to Cape Canaveral and finally Portsmouth, Courageous spent most of her career running around the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Florida Straits and was involved in all manner of Coastie-classic duties including putting down a mutiny at sea on a German merchantman (M/V Helga Witt), taking a blazing tanker in tow (Mobile Apex, 1969), hosting international oceanographic and meteorological experiments, pulling hundreds of assorted migrants from “rafts” deep at sea, coming to the rescue of craft at the mercy of the ocean, and, of course, making huge drug busts.

Speaking to the latter, she twice earned the “Bust of the Year” title for 1977’s interception of the Calabres with 240,000 pounds of grass, and 1981’s seizure of the Hermigua carrying another 400,000 pounds of leafy green. Ahh, the old days.

Following a $20 million 1990 reconstruction that gutted and replaced her powerplant, changed her topside appearance, and deep-sixed the 3-inch popgun for a much smaller 25mm MK38 chain gun.

Coast Guard Cutter Courageous (WMEC 622), off Panama City, Florida, 10/11/1993, as she appeared fresh out of modernization with an HH-65 Dolphin on her deck (and a port-a-let on her stern!). USCG photo by DUNN, FRANK PA3

Decommissioned 19 September 2001 after a 33-year career (keep in mind 14 of her sisters are still in active USCG service, hitting the beat regularly on 30-60 day patrols)m she was laid up until 2005 when she was given as military aid to Sri Lanka, entering service as Samudura. Notably, she has had her armament greatly increased, putting a 40mm L60 Bofors in place of the old 25mm mount, adding two twin 23mm AAA guns, and installing four Dshkas on the bridge wings and stern.

And she is still up to her old tricks.

Last March, her crew was responsible for the largest drug seizure in the Sri Lankan Navy’s history of 400 kilos of heroin and 100 kilos of crystal methamphetamine valued at $33.5 million.

Apparently, you can take the cutter out of the Florida Straits but you can’t take the Florida Straits out of the cutter.

Bollinger Looks to Get a Slice of that Sweet, Sweet OPC Pie

With as many as 25 of the Coast Guard’s 4,500-ton/360-foot new Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter/Maritime Security Cutter, Medium set to be built (don’t be surprised if the number of hulls increases) a big name in the USCG build game is trying to get in on the action.

New Orleans-based Bollinger and the Coasties go way back, delivering 170 vessels in the last three decades, all of which have had a long and (mostly) successful history. This includes the 110-foot Island-class (49 delivered), the 87-foot Marine Protector class (77 delivered), and now the 158-foot Sentinel-class (44 of 64 delivered to date). The yard also built the Navy’s Cyclone-class patrol ships (14 delivered) in the 1990s and is building the 5,100-ton/263-foot Navajo-class rescue and salvage ships (7 building) as well.

Now, the yard wants to step up to the larger cutters and has submitted a package to get in on the second flight of 11 OPCs, vying against Eastern Shipbuilding in Panama City, a largely commercial tug/supply boat company, that is building at least the first two of the initial flight of 11. The ships are projected for a rapid build-out with the Coast Guard expecting the first 22 by the early-to-mid 2030s, which sounds far away but really isn’t.

They will be replacing the 30-to-50-year-old 1,300-ton, 210-foot Reliance-class and 1,800-ton, 270-foot Famous-class medium-endurance cutters, which, along with the circa 1967 former Navy Edenton-class rescue ship which has been serving as USCGC Alex Haley (WMEC-39), amount to some 30 hulls.

“Bollinger is the right shipyard at the right time to build the Offshore Patrol Cutter program for the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Ben Bordelon, Bollinger President and CEO. “Our long history building for the Coast Guard is unparalleled and has shown time and time again that Bollinger can successfully deliver the highest quality vessels on an aggressive production schedule.”

Bollinger was a contender in every step of the U.S. Coast Guard’s OPC acquisition process, including the execution of the Stage 1 Preliminary and Contract Design, where the company was included in the final three shipyards, as well as execution of the OPC Stage 2 Industry Study.

The OPCs are essentially a scaled-down light frigate, with lots of commonality sensor and weapon-wise with the Navy’s LCS and planned new Constellation-class FFGs, as well as the Coast Guard’s larger National Security program cutters.

This includes the BAE Mk110 (Bofors’ 57Mk3, which uses an interesting Mk295 3P fuzed ammo), an SPS-77 (Saab Sea Giraffe) 3D radar with gun cueing so that the 57mm can be used for AAA/anti-missile defense, a stabilized Mk 38 25mm gun (that can be upgraded to a 30mm or 50mm barrel on the same mount), two stabilized .50 cals and four good old M2s. Northrop Grumman was just named the systems integrator for C5ISR and control systems. They can interface with the fleet via Link 22 and have IFF/TACAN systems.

There is also weight and space available for anti-ship missiles and a CIWS and they can carry an HH-60-sized helicopter which means, in a pinch, they can support an Oceanhawk/Seahawk and a UAV at the same time due to a large hangar. 

The Sea Giraffe AMB has proved successful on the Independence-class LCS (the variant that seems to be having fewer issues) as well as the Swedish Visby class corvettes, Canadian Halifax-class frigates, Singapore’s Victory-class corvettes et. al. while the Bofors gun is used both far and wide overseas and the Navy is looking to up the lethality of that program as well since they are installing it on the Constellations.

Pascagoula, Miss. (Feb. 11, 2008)- The MK 110 57mm gun was fired off the bow of the Coast Guard’s first National Security Cutter, Bertholf, on Feb. 11 during sea trials (Northrop Grumman photo)

The 57mm’s 13-pound 3P Mk 295 Mod 0 cartridge projectile section delivers over 8,000 pre-formed tungsten fragments in reaction to 420 grams of PBX-explosive. It has a range of “at least” nine nm. (BAE)

The OPC also has lots of soft kills such as a newer version of the Slick 32, Nulka, and other countermeasures.

The program should prove interesting and could contrast well against the LCS debacle.

Sun is getting low for the 210s

When the 16 Reliance-class medium endurance cutters were ordered in the 1960s, they were the first cutter built as part of the Coast Guard’s post-World War II fleet revitalization and the first new USCG-designed seagoing cutter construction since the 1930s, with the 255-foot Oswego-class cutters and Wind-class icebreakers wartime Navy-oriented designs.

This black and white photo shows newly the commissioned Reliance (WMEC-615) with an HH-52 Sea Guard helicopter landing on its pad and davits down with one of its small boats deployed. Notice the lack of smokestack and paint scheme pre-dating the Racing Stripe or “U.S. Coast Guard” paint schemes. She has a 3″/50 forward as well as 20mm cannons for AAA work and weight and space for Mousttraps, a towed sonar, and Mk.32 ASW tubes, although they were never fitted. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Humble 210-foot cutters, they had a lot of innovation for the period.

As noted by the Coast Guard Historian’s Office, they were the first class of cutter with a combined diesel and gas (CODAC) powerplant that “drove the cutter at speeds of up to 20 knots, so it could tow a 10,000-ton vessel or keep pace with Navy carrier fleets.” Other groundbreaking facets included the first use of air conditioning on a cutter and the first fleet of cutters designed with a flight deck for helicopter operations, a new-fangled device the USGC helped developed in the 1940s.

Built in four yards, 16 Reliance-class cutters joined the fleet in just four years, at a program cost of $54 million ($446M today), which is a deal in any decade.

In the 1980s, the 210s were given a mid-life upgrade in which their CODAC suite became diesel-only with a pair of pitch controlled main diesel engines capable of reaching a max speed of 18 knots, a midship exhaust stack, and her WWII-era armament landed for a 25mm direct-guided Mk.38 and two .50 caliber machine guns. Her flight deck, although shortened due to the new stack, was still capable of carrying and deploying an HH/MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, albeit without a hangar, and running HIFR on larger birds.

Coast Guard Cutter Reliance patrols the Western Caribbean in support of the Joint Interagency Task Force – South October 2014. The cutter’s crew worked with an aviation detachment from the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron based in Jacksonville, Fla., to detect and interdict suspected smugglers. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Clinton McDonald)

They even appeared in a number of films, with class member USCGC Dauntless (WMEC-624) showing up in the Peter Benchley/Michael Caine vehicle The Island as both a supporting actor and set for the last act of the movie.

(Check out from the 3:21 mark on)

With that being said, the 210s are in their last days and several have been decommissioned and given away as military aid. The aforementioned Galveston-based Dauntless and the Pascagoula-based USCGC Decisive (WMEC-629), the latter of which I toured several times for an article in Sea Classics magazine, transferred to Pensacola in 2017, where the service is gathering the last of the tribe “to better leverage efficiencies gained by clustering vessels of the same class.”

And such, Reliance, which has been based at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the town of Kittery, Maine for the past 32 years, pulled stumps for P-Cola on Monday, set for her last chapter in U.S. maritime service, which will be from P-Cola.

The Coast Guard will soon build the “Heritage”-Class 360-foot Offshore Patrol Cutters, often recycling 210-class cutter names, to replace both the Reliances and the 270-foot Bear/Famous-class cutters.

Or at least that’s the plan, anyway.

OPC seems right on track

Eastern Shipbuilding Group announced last week they successfully completed the Offshore Patrol Cutter ICDR Milestone for the U.S. Coast Guard on time and under budget, which is a good sign, esp since the class is the first warship the company is making.

ESG has options for production of up to nine vessels with a potential total value of $2.38 billion (or about $265m per hull, which is a fairly good deal when you consider the cheapest LCS is $432 million) while the USCG is expected to order as many as 25 of the vessels to replace a like number of smaller and much older vessels.

OPC Characteristics:
•Length: 360 feet
•Beam: 54 feet
•Draft: 17 feet
•Sustained Speed: 22 Plus knots
•Range: 8500 Plus nautical miles
•Endurance: 60 Days

I say replace the Mk38 with a C-RAM, shoehorn a towed sonar, ASW tubes and an 8-pack Mk41 VLS with LRASMs aboard and call it a day.

What is this LRASM?

Update on Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutters

offshore patrol cutter ESG VARD 7Seems the Panama City commercial shipbuilder who is crafting up to 25 new mil-spec OPVs (light frigates) for the USCG is getting some serious subcontractors.

Announced Monday:

Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a contract from Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) for the design of C4ISR [command, control, communications, computers and intelligence] and machinery control systems (MCS) for the U.S. Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs). The systems being supplied include integrated bridge systems, command and control consoles, navigation and combat data distribution systems, ship-wide computer network systems, machinery control systems and propulsion control systems

“Our suite of integrated C4ISR and machinery control systems will provide the Coast Guard the long-term offshore capability needed to perform Coast Guard missions,” said Todd Leavitt, vice president, maritime systems business unit, Northrop Grumman. “This high priority investment will allow the Coast Guard to affordably and efficiently modernize the fleet, while extending their existing capabilities and effectively addressing the changing needs of their missions.”

In other OPC related news, I already talked about how the design is based on Norwegian-owned/Singapore stock exchange registered VARD’s series of OPVs in use around the globe (Ireland, Mauritania, Canada, and New Zealand,), and now it looks like Italian naval shipmaker heavyweight Fincantieri  is moving to take full control of the company which has ten strategically located shipbuilding facilities, including five in Norway, two in Romania, two in Brazil and one in Vietnam. Fincantieri already owns 55.63 percent of the company’s public stock and now wants the rest.

Well, the USCG decided to fish rather than cut bait

After an evolutionary process that has been dragging on since for 15 years, the U.S. Coast Guard has awarded a $110 million (which could turn into an estimated $10.5 billion if all options are used) contract to build a new generation of frigate-sized offshore patrol cutters. It will be the largest shipbuilding program the branch has ever embarked on with as many as 25 hulls built.

The hunt began as part of the Integrated Deepwater System Program back in 2001 which led to early talks with five companies, then it was whittled down to three with Mississippi naval builders VT Halter Marine and Ingalls Shipbuilding excluded in 2014 (as was the design’s stern launching ramp).

The three remaining were: Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City, Florida; Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana and Bath Iron Works in Maine. Bath is a heavy hitter, building the $4 billion Zumwalt and her follow-ons as well as DDG51 class destroyers. Bollinger is a Coast Guard darling, creating their 110-foot Island, 87-foot Marine Protector, and 154-foot Sentinel classes of patrol boats and patrol cutters.

But both Bollinger and BIW were left smoking this week as the award for the first nine OPCs went to Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. of Panama City, FL (who teamed with Canada’s STX/VARD Marine–part of Italy’s frigate making Fincantieri concern– Northrop Grumman, Quantic Engineering, and MAN on the design).

What have ESG built before? As for military ships, they are in a Design Study and Analysis for the Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) 1700 by the United States Navy, but that’s about it. They are commercial ship experienced, however, with some 150 vessels up to 433-feet built in recent years ranging from tugs to dredgers to trawlers and school ships.

The design is the VARD 7 100m but tweaked.

offshore patrol cutter ESG VARD 7 offshore patrol cutter ESG VARD 7

Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s notional design is 360 feet long, with a beam of 54 feet and a draft of 17 feet. The OPCs will have a range of 10,200 nautical miles (at 14 knots) on a set of MTU diesels and endurance for 60-day patrol cycles. The OPC will conduct missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction search and rescue, and other homeland security and defense operations. Each OPC will feature a flight deck and hangar capable of carrying a MH60 sized bird and advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment. The ship will embark 3 OTH boats and be capable of 22knots when wide open.

No word on manning of these ships, but similar designed craft in use in Ireland and New Zealand are being run with 30-5o man crews (with extra berths for aircrew and transients), which is a huge reduction from the current 75 person complement on the Coast Guard’s 210’s and 100-man crews on the 270s.

The VARD 7 090 design was recently selected by the Irish Naval Service to replace their older LE Roisin and LE Niamh ships. The Royal New Zealand Navy uses a VARD 85m design as their Protector-class offshore patrol vessel and the Mauritian Coast Guard has used a similar vessel for the past 20 years, so the OPC has some legit OPV lineage.

LE Samuel Beckett P61, a VARD 90m design.

LE Samuel Beckett P61, a VARD 90m design.

HMNZS Wellington a VARD 85m design

HMNZS Wellington a VARD 85m design

Shrinking numbers 40…28…25..?

The OPC will replace the branch’s Medium Endurance Cutters (WMECs). Back in the 1988 the Coast Guard had 40 WMECs to include two classes purpose built as cutters: 13 newish 270-foot Bear-class and 16 1960s-era 210-foot Reliance-class; as well as a number of WWII vintage ships converted to the task to include the 230-foot Storis, 3 213-foot Diver-class rescue and salvage ships (Yocona, Acushnet, Escape), 4 205-foot Cherokee/Navajo-class auxiliary tugs (Ute, Lipan, Chilula, Cherokee, Tamaroa) and 3 “white hulled” 180 foot buoy tenders (see this week’s Warship Wednesday).

The newest cutter in the fleet, USCGC Mohawk (WMEC-913), was commissioned in 1991, making her 27-years young and not getting any younger.

Since Mohawk‘s commissioning, these 40 hulls were trimmed to 28 as the WWII vessels and a couple of the 210s were retired (USCGC Courageous struck in 2001 after 33 years service and was transferred to to Sri Lanka where she currently serves as P-621 SLNS Samudura. USCGC Durable transferred to Colombia in 2003 as Valle del Cauca. Both were removed from service due to the “increasing age of the deepwater fleet after 30 years of service, and due to mounting, costly maintenance requirements”).

During this period only one ship was added and kept, the 28-year-old surplus Edenton-class salvage and rescue ship USS Edenton (ATS-1) transferred as USCGC Alex Haley (WMEC-39) to replace the Storis in Alaska.

USCGC Vigilant returning from an 8-week patrol. The USCG has 14 of these now 50-year old 210-footers left that OPC will replace

USCGC Vigilant (WMEC-6217) returning from an 8-week patrol. The USCG has 14 of these now 50-year old 210-footers left that OPC will replace, likely first. USCG photo.

USCGC Northland (WMEC-904) returning from patrol last week. These 270-footers were a compromise design in the 1980s that replaced the old 327-foot WWII Treasury class cutters and others. They are the last in the U.S. fleet to mount the Mk75 76mm gun

USCGC Northland (WMEC-904) returning from patrol last week. These now 30-year old 270-footers were a controversial compromise design in the 1980s that replaced the old 327-foot WWII Treasury class cutters and others. They are the last in the U.S. fleet to mount the Mk75 76mm gun and are the newest WMECs in the Guard. USCG photo

Now, the atrophy will continue as a maximum of 25 (expect that to be trimmed to 20 over the years) OPCs will replace the 28 WMECs. On the bright side, the OPC is larger, and the artist conception image from Eastern shows a 57mm Mk110 forward, a 25mm Mk96/38 aft, and six M2 mounts as well as a SRBOC and a AN/SLQ-32(v) EW suite– which is far more armament that the current cutters they are replacing save for the 270s. If you ask me, they should add a couple Harpoon cans amidships,  some Mk.32 ASW tubes on deck and swap out the 25mm for a Sea Ram, but hey…

With the figure of $2.38 billion for the first nine cutters, this amortizes out to $264 million a pop, or about half the price of the similarly sized and armed Navy LCS vessels. While these ships are very slow when compared  to LCS, they are a few knots faster than the 16-19 knot max speed WMECs currently in service.

“The Offshore Patrol Cutter acquisition is the Coast Guard’s highest investment priority, and we are proud to announce this important milestone,” said Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft in a statement. “The Offshore Patrol Cutter will replace our aging medium endurance cutters and provide the majority of offshore presence by the Coast Guard’s cutter fleet. Whether combating transnational organized criminal networks off Central America or patrolling in the increasingly accessible Arctic, the Offshore Patrol Cutter will ensure our Nation’s maritime security and economic interests are preserved for decades to come.”

Bath is expected to protest. 

The first OPC is expected to be delivered in fiscal year 2021 at which point the oldest WMEC in the fleet, USCGC Reliance (WMEC-615), will be 57. Assuming two hulls will be ordered per year, and a three-year build out, the last of newest of the current WMECs, Mohawk, could be replaced around 2034, when she will be hitting age 43.

Or, in Coast Guard parlance, just getting broken in.