Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy, through an Integrated Program Office (IPO), awarded VT Halter Marine Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi, a fixed price incentive (firm) contract for the Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) of the Coast Guard’s lead Polar Security Cutter (PSC).
The initial award is valued at $745.9 million and supports non-recurring engineering and detail design of the PSC class as well as procurement of long lead-time materials and construction of the first ship. The contract also includes options for the construction of two additional PSCs. If all options are exercised, the total contract value is $1.9 billion. PSCs support a wide range of Coast Guard missions including search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, environmental response, and national defense missions.
The U.S. Coast Guard is the nation’s lead agency responsible for providing assured surface access in the polar regions. This contract award supports the United States’ ability to recapitalize heavy polar icebreaker capabilities that are vital to our nation’s ability to conduct national missions, respond to critical events, and project presence in the polar regions.
“Against the backdrop of great power competition, the Polar Security Cutter is key to our nation’s presence in the polar regions,” said Admiral Karl L. Schultz, Commandant of the Coast Guard. “With the strong support of both the Trump Administration and the United States Congress, this contract award marks an important step towards building the nation’s full complement of six polar icebreakers to meet the unique mission demands that have emerged from increased commerce, tourism, research, and international activities in the Arctic and Antarctic.”
The acquisition of Polar Security Cutters is being jointly managed across the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard through an IPO that leverages the expertise and utilizes best practices across each enterprise to deliver a fleet of highly capable, multi-mission ships in the most cost-efficient and timely manner possible. NAVSEA is the lead contracting authority.
“This contract award reflects the great benefit achieved by integrating the incredible talents of U.S. Coast Guard and Navy acquisition and shipbuilding professionals to deliver best value at speed,” said James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. “Working with our industry partners, the team identified approximately $300 million in cost avoidances and accelerated the schedule for delivery of this capability to the nation by almost three years. This reflects the urgency in which we are operating to ensure we deliver capabilities necessary to support the U.S. Coast Guard and the nation’s missions in the polar regions.”
Construction on the first PSC is planned to begin in 2021 with delivery planned for 2024; however, the contract includes financial incentives for earlier delivery.
The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy are committed to working together to ensure the success of this program and to deliver the capabilities necessary to meet national defense and homeland security mission demands in the polar regions.
In a joint statement, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and Congressman Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., commended the Coast Guard’s choice of VT Halter Marine, Inc. to design and build the next generation of heavy polar icebreakers. The contract, initially valued at $745.9 million, is expected to bring millions of dollars in new investment to VT Halter’s Pascagoula shipyard, supporting the creation of up to 450 new jobs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“The Coast Guard’s heavy polar icebreakers are a critical part of our nation’s ability to protect our interests in the polar regions,” said Wicker, who is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the Coast Guard. “Winning the contract to build the Polar Security Cutter is a great achievement for the talented shipbuilders at VT Halter. The ships we build in Mississippi will help close the gap in our polar defense and ensure American mariners cannot be denied access to the Arctic region by our adversaries.”
“I’m very pleased VT Halter and its shipbuilders won the selection to lead the charge in ongoing Homeland Security efforts to strengthen the Coast Guard icebreaker fleet and ensure U.S. sovereignty in the Arctic,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the Coast Guard. “These advanced ships will help address national security, law enforcement, and humanitarian missions in the polar regions.”
“As a member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I can tell you the need for this ship has been made clear through countless hearings and briefings. I have no doubt that VT Halter is the right shipyard to provide the best possible ship to our Coast Guard,” said Palazzo. “This vote of confidence underscores what I have said for years, Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is home to the greatest shipbuilders anywhere in the world.”
The contract also includes options for two additional PSCs to be built. In all, the total contract is valued at $1.9 billion if all options are exercised.
PSCs will enable the United States to maintain defense readiness in the Arctic and Antarctic regions; enforce treaties and other laws needed to safeguard both industry and the environment; secure ports, waterways, and coasts; and provide logistical support – including vessel escort – to facilitate the movement of goods and personnel necessary for scientific research, commerce, national security activities, and maritime safety.