Sea-Air-Space 2019: VT Halter Marine to kick off work on US icebreaker
VT Halter Marine, the newly selected prime contractor for the US Coast Guard’s Polar Security Cutter (PSC), will soon host a five-day meeting with government’s programme management team to discuss how the design and construction of the heavy polar icebreaker will proceed, according to a company official.
The ‘project kickoff’ event will take place at VT Halter’s headquarters in Pascagoula, Mississippi, in late May, said Ron Baczkowski, the company’s president and CEO.
‘We will talk about how we’re going to go into this relationship and do business for the next five years,’ Baczkowski told Shephard at the 2019 Sea-Air-Space Exposition near Washington, DC. VT Halter wants to ensure ‘we understand what they want us to deliver to them and when they want it delivered so we can perform on time and meet their expectations.’
The programme’s first 18 months will focus on the design phase and acquiring long-lead items, Baczkowski said. Construction of the first PSC is expected to begin in 2021 after the completion of a production readiness review. The ship’s delivery is slated for 2024.
Since US shipbuilders lack recent experience with heavy icebreakers, VT Halter had to look to Europe to come up with its PSC offering, Baczkowski said. Its concept is based on a new German icebreaking research vessel, the Polarstern II. Finland’s ABB will provide the PSC’s propulsors.
'A heavy icebreaker hasn’t been built in the US for over 40 years, so we knew we had to find people that had expertise,’ he said. ‘We came up with a design that exceeds almost every aspect or every requirement that the coast guard put out in their RfP.’
The first PSC will replace the aging Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star. The contract contains options for two more PSCs, which would boost the total value to $1.9 billion.
Fincantieri Marine Group, one of the losing bidders for PSC, has received a government debrief on the contract award and has decided against protesting, a spokesman said. Fincantieri might now turn its focus to the coast guard’s future competition for medium polar icebreakers.
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