The economy of Panama City and Bay County got a huge boost Thursday after Eastern Shipbuilding landed a $10.5 billion contract to build two dozen new U.S. Coast Guard cutters.
According to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), the contract to build 25 new Offshore Patrol Cutters could bring 2,000 jobs to the Panama City area.
"This is a big win for the people of Northwest Florida,” Nelson said. “The 2,000 new jobs that this contract will create will provide a significant boost to the local economy.”
At a cost of around $484 million per ship, it’s the largest contract the Coast Guard has ever awarded in its 226-year history.
Eastern Shipbuilding Group was selected to finalize its design and construct the first series of nine Offshore Patrol Cutters to replace the Medium Endurance Cutters currently in service.
The contract is initially for nine vessels with options for two additional vessels. The Coast Guard program goal is to build 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters having a potential total contract value in excess of $10 billion.
Eastern Shipbuilding is a family held shipbuilding company. An employer in Bay County for over 40 years, Eastern currently provides jobs for more than 1500 employees.
Since 2008, Eastern has spent more than $75 million dollars in upgrading and expanding its facilities and shipbuilding capabilities to continue growing and meeting the needs of its commercial and government customers.
At the full ramp up of the OPC contract Eastern anticipates expanding its workforce with additional craftsmen and additional engineering and administration staff to fulfill the contract requirements. Eastern will also continue to provide quality vessels for commercial customers, maintaining its success and providing numerous jobs in the competitive, cost-conscious commercial shipbuilding market.
Initially, Eastern has been awarded the detail design effort with a value of approximately One Hundred Ten million dollars. Construction of the first vessel is expected to commence in 2018.
Securing this contract was based on Eastern’s reputation as an industry leader in the construction of mid-range tonnage commercial ships. With a record of delivering 149 out of 150 ships on time and on budget since 2002, Eastern’s performance record is unmatched.
Over the past 10 years, Eastern has delivered vessels, ranging from 80 feet to 433 feet in length, many with complexity comparable to the Offshore Patrol Cutter. Efficient, commercially based production processes ensure affordability in the construction of these Coast Guard vessels.
"We knew from the beginning, that the U.S. Coast Guard would appreciate our excellent performance record of on time delivery of high quality vessels built by our first-rate craftsmen,” said Joey D'Isernia, Eastern Shipbuilding president.
"We believe that the Coast Guard is going to get the best value for its money and the finest vessels to succeed in its mission,” added Eastern Shipbuilding CEO Brian D'Isernia.
The Coast Guard’s Program of Record, calls for procuring a total of Twenty Five Offshore Patrol Cutters as replacements for the Twenty Nine Medium Endurance Cutters currently in service. Eight shipbuilders originally provided draft designs for the cutters. The Coast Guard down selected to five shipbuilders to refine designs. In 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded firm fixed-price contracts to Three shipyards to develop preliminary and contract design proposals for the project.
Eastern Shipbuilding was selected over the other finalists located in Louisiana and Maine.
The Coast Guard conducted a thorough evaluation of the three proposals based on technical, management, producibility, and price factors. Eastern’s design includes the following features: Length 360 Feet; Width 54 Feet; Speed in excess of 22 knots; Capable of carrying an MH-60R or MH-65 Helicopter; Capable of carrying Three OTH small boats. The vessel also includes a highly sophisticated combat system and C4ISR communication suite which will allow the Coast Guard to continue to support and execute the Coast Guard’s missions.