First Heritage-class cutter for US Coast Guard launched
The first Heritage-class OPC for the USCG, USCGC Argus (WMSM-915), was launched at the Eastern Shipbuilding Group shipyard in Panama City, Florida, on 27 October.
Shephard Defence Insight noted the vessels were being built by Eastern Shipbuilding Group and Austal USA to replace the 29 current medium-endurance cutters.
Nine OPCs have currently been put on order with the Coast Guard with four contracted.
Construction began on USCGC Argus in January 2019 and had been due to be to be delivered in 2022. The current planned procurement rate of the OPCs is two ships per year. The OPCs will be expected to be in service for around 40 years.
Adm. Linda L Fagan, commandant of the USCG, said: ‘The OPC is one of the Service's highest acquisition priorities and is absolutely vital to recapitalising the capability provided by our legacy fleet of 210-foot and 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutters.’
The OPC has been designed to conduct an array of missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction, search and rescue, disaster relief, and other homeland security and defence operations in support of maritime security and border protection.
The OPC design has included the capability of carrying an MH-60R or MH-65 helicopter and three operational over-the-horizon small boats.
Fabrication of the second of class USCGC Chase began on 27 April 2020 and the keel of the vessel was laid down on 26 May 2021. USCGC Chase has been scheduled for delivery in 2023.
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