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Steel cutting for second offshore patrol cutter OPC Heritage-class WMSM-916 for US Coast Guard


Panama City, FL, Eastern Shipbuilding Group reports that steel cutting for the second offshore patrol cutter (OPC) Heritage-class, Coast Guard Cutter CHASE (WMSM-916), commenced on April 27, 2020 at Eastern’s facilities. The cutting of steel started the fabrication and assembly of the cutter’s hull, and ESG is to complete keel laying of CHASE in 2021. Additionally, ESG has commenced the placement of orders for long lead time materials for OPC #3, Coast Guard Cutter INGHAM (WMSM-917).


Steel cutting for second offshore patrol cutter OPC Heritage class WMSM 916 for US Coast Guard 925 001 Coast Guard Cutter CHASE WMSM-916 is the second Heritage-class cutter for the U.S. Coast Guard. (Picture source Eastern Shipbuilding)


Eastern’s President Mr. Joey D’Isernia noted the following: "Today marks a monumental event and reflects the dedication and resolve of our workforce to execute program milestones on-time. ESG is dedicated to the task of building the most sophisticated, highly capable ships for the Coast Guard. Today's success is the start of serial production of the OPCs at ESG by our dedicated team of shipbuilders and subcontractors for our customer and partner, the United States Coast Guard. We are excited for what will be a great 2020 for Eastern Shipbuilding Group and Bay County, Florida.”

The OPC is 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-60R or MH-65 helicopter and three operational Over The-Horizon small boats. The vessel is also equipped with a highly sophisticated combat system and C4ISR suite that will enhance capabilities to execute the service’s missions.

On September 15, 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard exercised the option for Detail Design on Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s OPC contract. Eastern Shipbuilding Group will construct the Offshore Patrol Cutters to replace the Medium Endurance Cutters currently in service. The contract includes the production of up to four vessels.

The WMSM-916 is an Heritage-class cutter, also known as the Offshore Patrol Cutter designed perform various Coast Guard missions which include but are not limited to PWCS (Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security), Defense Operations, Maritime Law Enforcement (Drug/migrant interdiction and other Law Enforcement), Search and Rescue, Marine Safety, and environment protection. For Defense Operations the WMSM will meet a range of roles from Theater Security Cooperation to deploying with an Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) or supporting a combatant commander in various ways. The cutters will also support Arctic operations.

The combat suite of Heritage-class cutter includes Saab Sea Giraffe AN/SPS-77 multi-mode medium range naval radar system provides three-dimensional air and surface search functions. The multi-mode naval radar also provides Gun Weapon System cueing and supports the cutters self-defense and limited air defense capability. The cutters is also equipped with the AN/SLQ-32C(V)6 Electronic Warfare System, which is a scaled down and lower cost version of the AN/SLQ-32(V)6 SEWIP Block 2 system.

The Heritage-class cutter is equipped with the same 220 rpm Bofors 57 mm gun as mounted on the USN's Littoral combat ships and the USCG's Legend class cutters. The Missile Defense duties are handled by the MK 53 decoy systems also used on the Legend class cutters. The Heritage class cutters weapon and defense systems provide Anti-Surface capability, limited Air-Defense Capability, and the capability to provide naval gunfire support. The cutter is also armed with two .50 caliber machine guns and one Mk 38/Mk 110 25mm gun to provide protection against fast attack craft.