USCG announces names of first 11 Heritage-class offshore patrol cutters

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has announced the names of the first 11 Heritage-class offshore patrol cutters (OPCs).

The names are Argus, Chase, Ingham, Pickering, Rush, Icarus, Active, Diligence, Alert, Vigilant and Reliance.

The OPCs are being built as part of the USCG’s highest investment priority to replace the service’s 270ft and 210ft medium endurance cutters, which are 25 to 50 years old and are expensive to maintain and operate.

Equipped with an advanced combat system and C4ISR suite, the OPCs will be designed to carry an MH-60R or MH-65 helicopter and three operational over-the-horizon (OTH) small boats.

Coast Guard commandant admiral Paul Zukunft said: “The offshore patrol cutter will be the backbone of Coast Guard offshore presence and the manifestation of our at-sea authorities.

“It is essential to stopping smugglers at sea, for interdicting undocumented migrants, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting our ports.”

In order to acquire the OPCs, the USCG has adopted a two-phase design-build strategy, as part of which contracts were awarded to three vendors for Phase 1, preliminary and contract design, in February 2014.

Following evaluation, the service awarded a detail and design contract to Eastern Shipbuilding Group on 15 September 2016.

The contract has a potential total value of $2.38bn and includes options for production of up to nine vessels.

Last month, the company successfully completed its initial critical design review (ICDR) for the OPC programme.

Construction of the first vessel is expected to start in August 2018, with delivery scheduled for the fiscal year 2021. The USCG has plans to acquire a total of 25 OPCs.