Tag Archives: vigilant

OPCs of Mobile Bay

We’ve covered the USCG’s new Offshore Patrol Cutter program at length.

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

The main armament is a Mk 110 57mm gun forward with a MK 38 Mod 3 25mm gun over the stern HH60-sized hangar, and four M2 .50 cal mounts. 

I say replace the Mk38 with a C-RAM, shoehorn a towed sonar, ASW tubes, an 8-pack Mk41 VLS crammed with Sea Sparrows, and eight NSSMs aboard and call it a day. The Mexicans do the same loadout with the new Reformador-class frigates on a hull the same size, so why not us? 

The first flight of 11 OPCs has been awarded to Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. (ESG) and they have four– class leader USCGC Argus (WMSM 915), followed by USCGC Chase (WMSM 916), USCGC Ingham (WMSM 917) and USCGC Rush (WMSM 918)— in various stages of completion already at their Nelson Street facility in Panama City.

Well, the Coast Guard, in an effort to get all 25+ of these hulls completed ASAP to replace both the elderly 1960s-era 210-foot Reliance and aging 1980s-era 270-foot Bear-class cutters, announced on Thursday that a second yard, Austal in Mobile, Alabama, would get to work on the second flight of 11 OPCs, a contract estimated at being worth $3 billion smackers (which is a deal these days for 11 American frigate-sized OPVs).

The announcement via USCG HQ, Washington:

WASHINGTON – The Coast Guard awarded a fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract to Austal USA of Mobile, Ala. to produce up to 11 offshore patrol cutters (OPCs). The initial award is valued at $208.26 million and supports detail design and long lead-time material for the fifth OPC, with options for production of up to 11 OPCs in total. The contract has a potential value of up to $3.33 billion if all options are exercised.

In 2019, the Coast Guard revised the OPC acquisition strategy to mitigate emergent cost and schedule risk by establishing a new, full and open competition for OPCs five and through 15, designated as Stage 2 of the overall program. Informed by industry feedback received through a robust engagement strategy, the Coast Guard released a request for proposal Jan. 29, 2021, for OPC Stage 2 detail design and production. The Coast Guard’s requirements for OPC Stage 2 detail design and production were developed to maintain commonality with earlier OPCs in critical areas such as the hull and propulsion systems, but provide flexibility to propose and implement new design elements that benefit lifecycle cost, production and operational efficiency and performance.

“The offshore patrol cutter is absolutely vital to Coast Guard mission excellence as we recapitalize our legacy medium endurance cutters, some of which are more than 50 years old,” said Adm. Linda Fagan, commandant of the Coast Guard. “The OPCs are the ships our crews need to protect our national security, maritime safety and economic prosperity. I look forward to the new cutters joining our fleet.”

The 25-ship OPC program of record complements the capabilities of the service’s national security cutters, fast response cutters and polar security cutters as an essential element of the Department of Homeland Security’s layered maritime security strategy. The OPC will meet the service’s long-term need for cutters capable of deploying independently or as part of task groups and is essential to stopping smugglers at sea, interdicting undocumented non-citizens, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting ports.

Austal, of course, is the joint Australian-American operation that has built the controversial Independence-class of littoral combat ships and Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ships, all notably with composite hulls. The OPCs will be the company’s first steel-hulled warships.

That has caused some heartburn with Florida Congresscritters.

From U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla-2:

The Coast Guard made a mistake in its Offshore Patrol Cutter stage II decision. Eastern Shipbuilding is known for quality products and the Coast Guard knows this. I am very concerned the foreign company awarded the contract lacks experience in building steel vessels. This will ultimately cost taxpayers more money, and further delay these ships from entering service to protect our nation’s shores. My office will work to push the Coast Guard to reconsider this decision.

I will continue to fight for more economic opportunity for the people of Florida’s Second Congressional District.

Coast Guard Updates: Islands fading, SLEP’ing Bears, and OPC gains steam

From the DHS/USCGC FY2023 Budget book are a few gems including the drawdown of the once-mighty 49-ship strong Island-class 110-foot patrol boats— built between 1985-1992– the fact that at least one of the circa 1960s 210-foot Reliance-class cutters will decommission soon, and one of the 13 crews of the circa 1980s 270-foot Bear-class cutters will be disbanded as the class undergoes a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) process to continue service for another decade (or two) as the Offshore Patrol Cutter comes onboard.

Islands

We’ve talked a bunch about the Islands in past years, and they deserve it, as they are great boats. The planned drawdown leaves just five Island-class cutters in domestic waters, three in New England and two in the Pacific Northwest, areas where smaller 87-foot boats have a tougher go of it:

USCGC Key Largo (WPB-1324) is based in Gloucester, Mass 


USCGC Sitkinak (WPB-1329) is based in Portland, Maine 


USCGC Tybee (WPB-1330) is based in Woods Hole, Mass


USCGC Cuttyhunk (WPB-13) is based in Port Angeles, Washington


USCGC Anacapa (WPB-1335) is based in Petersburg, Alaska

The cutter Anacapa tied up at the Coast Guard’s mooring in Petersburg in April 2022 Joe Viechnicki KFSK

Of note, Anacapa is somewhat famous, having sunk by NGF a Japanese “zombie trawler” a few years back.

Now THAT’S Homeland Security! ( USCG D17 photo)

Cuttyhunk is set to decommission this week– on Thursday 5 May– after 33 years of service and will be replaced at Port Angeles by Anacapa who just shipped down there from Alaska, where she has, in turn, been based for the past 32 years.

A snippet of Cuttyhunk’s long and distinguished career: 

Over the past 34 years of service, Cuttyhunk’s crew conducted a wide range of operations. The cutter’s crews completed over 1,000 operations ranging from law enforcement boardings to search and rescue responses throughout the Pacific Northwest. Cuttyhunk assisted U.S. Naval Base Kitsap Bangor in several submarine escorts before Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor was established to ensure the safe transport of Ship Submersible Ballistic Submarines.

Nicknamed “The Pest of the West”, Cuttyhunk assisted in one of the largest maritime drug seizures in the Pacific Northwest, near Cape Flattery, Washington, in December of 1997. More than 3,500 pounds of marijuana, estimated at a street value of $15 million, was recovered from the OK Jedi, a 60-foot sailboat with three people onboard.

And then there were four.

Bears in hibernation

The Coast Guard has a habit of doing most of their repair, modernization, and SLEP work in-house, at the Government-owned CGY in Maryland. If only the Navy had such a program, right?

Anyway, USCGC Seneca (WMEC-906), commissioned in 1987, is the sixth of the 270-foot Bear-class cutters completed but is the first to complete its nine-month SLEP. Besides hull work in drydock, this included replacing generators and updating systems throughout the ship.

Incidentally, the Coast Guard Yard has been the DOD’s primary supporter of the MK 75 76mm gun, as everything that carried the old OTO Melera Super Rapid in the U.S. Navy (FFG-7, PHM, etc) has been decommissioned.

Bear-class cutter USCGC Thetis with her new (to her) MK 75

Changeout of CGC THETIS’ MK75 using a previously-overhauled MK75 this month at the CG Yard

Offshore Patrol Cutter

Fast facts:
• Class: Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) Heritage-class (WMSM)
• Weight: 4,320 tons
• Length: 360 feet
• Beam: 54 feet
• Speed: 22.5 knots
• Armory: Mark 110 57mm Bofors rapid-fire gun, Mark 38 MOD 3 25mm autocannon with 7.62mm chaingun over the helicopter hangar, remote and crew-served .50 caliber M2HB heavy machine gun mounts
• Crew: up to 126

Panama City’s Eastern Shipbuilding Group is celebrating the award of the fourth Heritage Class offshore patrol cutter (OPC), the future USCGC Rush (WMSM 918), as Hull# 309A last week. The Coast Guard plans to field as many as 25 of the new 360-footers to replace both the 210-foot Reliance and 270-foot Bear-class cutters.

The three other OPCs under contract to ESG, all in various states of construction:

Hull# 302A: WMSM-915: USCGC Argus
Hull# 305A: WMSM-916: USCGC Chase
Hull# 307A: WMSM-917: USCGC Ingham

Second Offshore Cutter on the Way, 23 to go!

Late last month, Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. (ESG) hosted the keel authentication ceremony for the U.S. Coast Guard’s future Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), USCGC Chase (WMSM 916), at their Nelson Street facility in Panama City.

USCGC Chase is the second OPC laid down, following on class leader USCGC Argus (WMSM 915), is part of a ~25 ship sloop/light frigate/corvette/offshore patrol vessel group meant to replace the over half-decade old 210-foot Reliance and 30-year-old 270-foot Bear-class medium endurance cutters.

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

The main armament is a Mk 110 57mm gun forward with a MK 38 25mm gun over the stern HH60-sized hangar, and four M2 .50 cal mounts. 

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

But no one listens to me…

Anyway, 

The first flight of 11 OPCs will include the ActiveArgusDiligence, and Vigilant, named for four cutters of the first fleet [of Alexander Hamilton’s 10 revenue service cutters in 1791] and subsequent cutters with the same names.

OPC Pickering will pay homage to the distinguished combat record of the Quasi-War cutter Pickering.

OPC Ingham will carry the name of a 327-foot “Treasury”-class cutter that served with distinction in World War II. [See Warship Wednesday entry on Ingham here]

OPC Icarus will honor the fearless 165-foot cutter that sank one of the first Nazi U-boats after U.S. entry into World War II.

OPCs Chase and Rush will bear two cutter names long associated with the Coast Guard, most recently with two high-endurance cutters of the 378-foot Hamilton-class [who put in time on the gun line off Vietnam.]

OPCs Alert and Reliance will bear the names of two famed workhorses of the medium-endurance cutter fleet.

USCG keeps the lineage intact with OPC cutter names

The Coast Guard just dropped the names for the first flight of 11 new 360-foot Offshore Patrol Cutters.

The agency stuck with the naming convention of recycling historical cutter names which is so much better than, oh, naming them after current members of Congress in charge of purse strings or, say, the political whims of the SECNAV.

From the CG:

The first flight of 11 OPCs will include the Active, Argus, Diligence and Vigilant, named for four cutters of the first fleet [of Alexander Hamilton’s 10 revenue service cutters in 1791] and subsequent cutters with the same names.

OPC Pickering will pay homage to the distinguished combat record of the Quasi-War cutter Pickering.

OPC Ingham will carry the name of a 327-foot “Treasury”-class cutter that served with distinction in World War II. [See Warship Wednesday entry on Ingham here]

OPC Icarus will honor the fearless 165-foot cutter that sank one of the first Nazi U-boats after U.S. entry into World War II.

OPCs Chase and Rush will bear two cutter names long associated with the Coast Guard, most recently with two high-endurance cutters of the 378-foot Hamilton-class [who put in time on the gun line off Vietnam.]

OPCs Alert and Reliance will bear the names of two famed workhorses of the medium-endurance cutter fleet.

The first offshore patrol cutter is scheduled for delivery in fiscal year 2021.