Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. (ESG) has begun construction of the US Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Rush (WMSM-918), the fourth hull in the Heritage Class Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) program. The occasion was observed by leaders of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Project Resident Office at ESG’s Allanton Shipyard, where the first steel plates were cut by ESG personnel at the ESG plant. builder’s 103,000 square foot steel and aluminum processing.

“The first four Offshore Patrol Cutters are fully in production for the US Coast Guard thanks to the unwavering commitment of our skilled professionals and partners,” said Joey D’Isernia, President of Eastern Shipbuilding Group. “The USCGC Rush is one of a class of ships with multi-mission capabilities and the endurance to carry the men and women of the USCG for more than half a century. With over 45 years of steel shipbuilding experience, we promise the highest quality control, and look forward to delivering the class leading vessel next year.

In addition, Eastern noted that the US Coast Guard amended its contract on May 20 “so that the installation of the Athena combat weapons system and multi-mode radar system would be completed during the production phase of the OPC.” The OPC’s Athena system, radar, and weaponry are provided to the Coast Guard as Navy-owned, Navy-type government-furnished equipment.

“Before this modification, the installation of the two systems had to take place after the delivery of the contract, while each cutter was in its home port. The Navy has completed development, integration, and testing of the Athena and radar systems, allowing the Coast Guard to move the installation into production. Performing this work before delivery reduces the technical risks associated with post-delivery installation and delivers ready-to-use OPCs to the fleet as soon as possible.

By implementing these changes now, ESG expects to deliver capabilities years ahead of a post-delivery integration strategy, the company said. This additional volume of work results in a new delivery date of 2023 for the Argus lead cutter which is 75% complete. The second OPC is about 50% complete and the third 25%. The fourth OPC should be delivered in 2026.