Sentinel Fast Response Cutter (FRC-B) Program
In September 2008, the Coast Guard awarded Bollinger an $88 million production contract for the lead FRC. The shipyard built 49 of the Island Class cutters. During Phase I, the Government awarded a contract in September 2008, to Bollinger Shipyards Incorporated for design and construction of the lead ship and options for up to 33 additional hulls. The Critical Design Review was held in November 2010.
An early operational assessment that reviewed design plans for the FRC was completed in August 2009 and identified 74 design issues, 69 of which were corrected during the assessment. The original delivery date for the lead cutter was scheduled for January 2011, but that date slipped to December 2011. The delay was due to a last minute design change, directed by the Coast Guard’s engineering and logistics technical authority, to enhance the structure of the cutter.
The first ship, named the Bernard C. Webber, was launched on 21 April 2011 and underwent sea trials prior to its delivery later in 2011. The first FRC, Bernard C. Webber, was commissioned in Miami on 14 April 2012. Webber was homeported in Miami, Fla., and primarily performed missions to save lives, enforce U.S. and international maritime law and ensure security in the Coast Guard’s 7th District off the Southeastern coast of the US and in the Caribbean Sea.
The second FRC, Richard Etheridge, was successfully launched 18 August 2011, at which time production was underway on FRCs #3-8. The second FRC, Richard Etheridge (WPC 1102), got underway en route to Grand Isle, La., on March 23, 2012, to prepare for builder's trials. Builder’s trials, which begin March 26, are conducted by the shipbuilder to test shipboard machinery and equipment and demonstrate the seaworthiness and functionality of the cutter's systems.
As chairwoman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, fought to include $358 million for six of the new cutters in the 2012 federal budget. The Coast Guard plans to acquire up to 58 FRCs. All Fast Response Cutters delivered as part of the Sentinel-class will be named after enlisted Coast Guard heroes. FRCs nine through twelve will be named the Kathleen Moore, Joseph Napier, William Trump and Isaac Mayo, respectively. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp participated in a dedication ceremony for the Coast Guard’s fast response cutter fleet in Lockport, La., on 02 March 2012.
There are several significant dates in the birth of a ship, which typically include the keel laying, christening (normally associated with the launch into the water), and commissioning. The dedication ceremony for the fast response cutter fleet replaces individual christening ceremonies as it’s more practical than an individual ceremony for each vessel given the number of cutters in this class. The names for the 14 cutters have been determined aas of early 2012. Many family members of these cutter’s namesakes are on hand to view the event as a commissioning pennant and box is dedicated for each ship. Later, upon commissioning, cutters will receive their individual pennant and box.
The Coast Guard awarded a $179.7 million contract option to Bollinger Shipyards of Lockport, La., 22 September 2011 for the production of four more Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters (FRCs). This option award brought the total number of FRCs under contract with Bollinger to twelve, with a current contract value of $597 million. The FRC contract contained options for up to 34 cutters and was worth up to $1.5 billion if all options are exercised. The FRCs acquired under this contract option were scheduled to be delivered to the Coast Guard in 2014 and homeported in Key West, FL. following the Webber, the service expecte to take delivery of either four or six patrol boats per year.
The Acquisition Directorate’s Project Resident Office (PRO) in Lockport, LA, is a conduit between Bollinger and the Coast Guard’s technical authorities, sponsor and project office, reviewing design deliverables and overseeing construction activities like welding and paint inspections. Taking a new cutter from acquisition to delivery does not end when the ship arrives at its homeport. Just like a new car, a new ship requires maintenance, spare parts and operations manuals, and that is where the directorate’s Asset Project Office (APO) comes in. Located just outside of Baltimore, the APO guides new assets through the transition from acquisition to sustainment, bringing a number of Coast Guard units to work together in the process.
The Government is considering a reprocurement strategy for Phase II of the FRC acquisition, which will complete the fleet by acquisition of 58 hulls. The strategy involves the use of the Reprocurement and Data License Package (RDLP). This will use the same product/configuration baseline as the cutters built under the initial contract. It will reduce lifecycle cost by reducing non-recurring engineering and the need for duplicative infrastructure to support two baselines (e.g., training, spares, manpower), and provide a shorter time period from contract award to delivery of cutters as a result of providing the design. As of 2011 the Government expected to receive funding for RDLP option in FY12, and to receive funding for reprocurement contract award in FY15.
At the peak of production Bollinger will be delivering a new cutter every eight weeks.
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