Birdon America awards first Waterway Commerce Cutter (WCC) subcontracts

Written by Marine Log Staff
Waterways Commerce Cutters

The Waterway Commerce Cutter (WCC) project consists of two separate but related vessel designs: the River Buoy Tender (WLR) and the Inland Construction Tender (WLIC) [Image: Birdon America]

Denver-based Birdon America, Inc. a subsidiary of Australia’s Birdon Pty Ltd, reports that it has awarded a first round of major subcontracts in support its $1.187 billion contract to design and build 27 Waterways Commerce Cutters (WCC) for the U.S. Coast Guard.

The subcontracts were awarded following a successful initial Program Management Review (PMR), the first major milestone of the WCC program.They range in value from $10 million to $50 million and are firm-fixed price (FFP), indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) awards for design, development, manufacturing, and delivery. Subcontract awardees in the first tranche included:

Birdon says it is committed to careful selection of strong U.S. suppliers with proven performance and a reputation for high quality. It adds that over 98% of its suppliers are U.S. companies, and 70% of the contract will be performed by small businesses, including Kern Martin Services (KMS), Inc., near Bayou La Batre, Ala.

Emmett Kern, president of KMS, said, “Our company’s roots began from a small family-owned business in 1979 servicing Bayou La Batre and surrounding areas. The company has grown from our humble beginnings, and now service projects from Florida to Texas. Our team and the local community are excited about the award of the interior joiner contract for the Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) vessels. This contract will sustain and grow jobs. Our specialty is 65-foot to 250-foot offshore and inland work boats. The WCC vessels are right in our wheelhouse. KMS has a reputation for quality on-time work. We appreciate the trust that Birdon has placed in us to continue this practice with the WCC project. We look forward to partnering with Birdon to complete these vessels for the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Rob Scott, President of Birdon America, Inc., said, “Birdon is moving full speed ahead with executing the WCC Program. These subcontracts are an important milestone, and we look forward to announcing additional subcontract awards soon. As a small business Birdon is always looking for opportunities to work with other small businesses and is excited to be working with Kern Martin. We appreciate the strong support and partnership from our subcontractors, and our ongoing relationship with the U.S. Coast Guard.”


The WCC contract comprises two separate but related vessel designs: the River Buoy Tender (WLR) and the Inland Construction Tender (WLIC). Both variants are complex, modern, and designed to military standards. The new cutter design will provide up to 11 days sustainment for up to 19 crew members. The 27 vessels will be constructed within a 10-year period commencing with an 18-month design finalization period.

Many of the current WCC vessels are over 70 years old. The vessels do not meet current readiness and technology standards and are increasingly expensive to maintain. This leads to operational delays, crew safety concerns, and does not allow the assignment of mixed gender crews.

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