The U.S. Coast Guard has delayed awarding design contracts for its future Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) by up to six months, saying shipyards vying for the work need more time to fine-tune their proposals.
The Coast Guard planned to award up to three contracts by Sept. 30 but now expects to do so in the January-March quarter of 2014. The extra time will allow the industry competitors “to address weaknesses and deficiencies identified during the initial evaluation” of their proposals, Coast Guard spokesman Eric Nagel said Sept. 26.
The maritime service said it "determined it is in the government’s best interest to hold discussions" with "several" shipyards that submitted the mostly highly-rated proposals, and "provide each a limited opportunity to revise and improve their proposals."
The Coast Guard declined to disclose the number and identify of the shipyards that are still in the running. At least seven companies indicated that they would submit proposals. Bollinger Shipyards and Huntington Ingalls told Examiner.com that they are among the five firms that remain in the competition; Vigor Shipyards said it is out.
Nagel said the delay in the contract awards will likely affect the schedule for the rest of the program, which hoped to narrow the field to one design in fiscal year 2016 and take delivery of the first of 25 OPCs in 2020.
“Specific impacts to the project schedule will depend on the length of discussions and the resumption of the source-selection process,” Nagel said.
The OPC will replace the Coast Guard’s aging fleet of 210-foot and 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutters, and provide increased range and endurance, more powerful weapons, a larger flight deck, and improved command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.
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