Still in Competition: Three industry design teams are refining concepts for the US Coast Guard's offshore patrol cutter program. Pictured is the design from General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, above, and Eastern Shipbuilding, top. An image from Bollinger Shipyards was unavailable. / General Dynamics Bath Iron Works
WASHINGTON — The competition narrowed Feb. 11 in the race to win the US governmentís largest new shipbuilding contract, as three companies received design deals for further work on the US Coast Guardís offshore patrol cutter.
Bollinger Shipyards, Eastern Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works each received awards of about $22 million to produce preliminary and contract designs for the offshore patrol cutter, a program that envisions up to 25 ships worth about $10.5 billion.
Eliminated in this round were proposals from Huntington Ingalls and VT Halter Marine. Last year, the Coast Guard passed on designs from Fincantieri Marinette Marine, GDís National Steel and Shipbuilding, and Vigor.
The three contenders are a mix of top-tier, medium and newcomer ó at least to government contracting ó shipbuilders. Bath Iron Works, in Bath, Maine, builds destroyers for the US Navy, but it has not performed significant Coast Guard work.
Bollinger, in Lockport, La., is a second-tier yard, but itís experienced in building small cutters for the service. Eastern, in Panama City, Fla., is a well-known builder of offshore support vessels and other smaller commercial products, but has little experience with government work.
Award of the three firm fixed-price contracts begins Phase I of a two-phased competition, the Coast Guard said in a news release. For Phase II in fiscal 2016, the service will choose one team to complete the detailed design and build one cutter, with options for 10 more.
Each team has a significant multinational partner. Bollinger is teamed with the design firm Gibbs & Cox, L-3 Communications and the Dutch Damen Shipyards Group, which created the parent design for US Coast Guard fast patrol cutters now being built in Lockport.
Bath is partnered with L-3 Communications and the Spanish shipbuilder Navantia. Easternís team includes STX Marine and Northrop Grumman. ■