Panama City, Fla., based Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. (ESG) yesterday commenced construction of USCG Ingham (WMSM-917), the third ship in the Heritage class offshore patrol cutter (OPC) program. The occasion was observed by leaders of the United States Coast Guard Project Resident Office at ESG’s Allanton Shipyard where the first steel plates were cut by personnel in ESG’s 103,000 square foot steel and aluminum processing facility and transferred to the Nelson Street Shipyard for assembly and construction.
Eastern says the milestone is yet another signal of growing momentum in the OPC program. The lead OPC, USCGC Argus, is nearly fully assembled and remains on schedule and on budget. In May 2021, the keel was laid for the second OPC, USCGC Chase, and all long lead time materials have been ordered for USCGC Hull 4.
“We are excited to begin the construction of USCGC Ingham, the third vessel of the Heritage Class OPC program,” said Joey D’Isernia, President of Eastern Shipbuilding Group. “Our dedicated workers and subcontractors are delivering exceptional quality and speed every day. It is our highest priority to get these superior vessels to the men and women of the USCG so that they can carry out their important missions around the globe with greater capability and effectiveness. Our track record of consistent government shipbuilding execution and unmatched quality has given our customer the confidence they needed to bring yet another vessel onto the production line. Our forward momentum continues to increase on this program and our recent investments in our people and our facilities will ensure that the men and women of the USCG receive these critical assets on the shortest timeline possible with the highest level of quality.”
ESG fully rebuilt its operational facilities following Hurricane Michael in 2018 and also expanded them with over $42.5 million in infrastructure improvement investments. The company has dedicated its Nelson Street Shipyard exclusively to the OPC program to ensure an unimpeded and hot production line experience. The company has also completed a launchway conversion and is making associated dredging investments at the yard to have a facility capable of launching and delivering two OPC sized vessels per year.
At its Allanton Shipyard, ESG has constructed a state-of-the-art C5ISR (Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) production facility to accomplish testing and integration of operational combat systems, equipment, and simulators on premises prior to final installation on the vessels. Later this year, ESG will commission a new aluminum superstructure fabrication and assembly hall at its Nelson Street facility.
The OPC is designed to conduct multiple missions in support of 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-60 or MH-65 helicopter and three operational over the-horizon small boats. The vessel is also equipped with a highly sophisticated combat system and C5ISR suite that will enhance capabilities to execute the service’s missions.