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Coast Guard taps three firms to design new ship

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The U.S. Coast Guard has awarded contracts to three shipbuilders to begin designing the future Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC).

The preliminary design contracts, valued at a total of $65 million, were given Feb. 11 to Bollinger Shipyards of Lockport, La., Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, Fla., and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, which issued a Feb. 14 press release about its $21.4 million contract, said the three winners were chosen from a field of eight competitors. At the end of the 18-month preliminary design period, the Coast Guard will pick one of the three finalists to develop the "detail design” and build the first nine to 11 ships.

The Coast Guard plans to buy a total of 25 OPCs to replace an aging fleet of Medium Endurance Cutters, the eldest of which is half a century old. The OPC is intended to provide increased range and endurance, more powerful weapons, a larger flight deck and improved command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The Coast Guard had planned to award the three preliminary design contracts by last September, but it said it delayed that action until now to give competitors more time to fix deficiencies in their proposals.

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