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SNA 2022: USCG OPCs – a Bridge to the Future

Northrop Grumman Leading Timely Integration

The US Coast Guard (USCG) will significantly strengthen its naval order of battle with the introduction of its Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPCs). The new class will replace the USCG’s 270 and 210ft medium endurance cutters that are approximately 30 and 50 years old, respectively. The OPCs will conduct missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction, search and rescue, and other homeland security and defence operations, in, and beyond, the Arctic region.

Northrop Grumman is on contract from Eastern Shipbuilding Group to produce C5ISR and control systems for the lead OPC, USCGC Argus (scheduled for delivery later this year) and procure long-lead time materiel for the second, USCGC Chase. Michael Corrigan, site director for Northrop Grumman in Charlottesville, VA and Operations Director for Maritime Systems Integration, told MON his company is providing “a major share of C5ISR equipment, from the navigation sensors to the integrated bridge, and   surveillance and surveillance sensors, and command and control stations, among others. We’re also the cyber design agent.” Key industry partners include Rockwell Automation and 901D (a Curtiss-Wright company).

Last October ESG, Northrop Grumman and other industry partners, including L3Harris, opened a test and integration centre in Panama City, FL, for the OPC’s C5I systems. “This is a fantastic risk-reduction effort,” Corrigan emphasised, explaining it is a mock-up of the deck house with all the relevant equipment. Production equipment goes through that facility, first to reduce risks prior to installation on the cutter.

As this interview was completed, the surging Omicron Covid variant threatened to further disrupt defence supply chains. This does not appear to be the case for Northrop Grumman’s OPC integration work. Corrigan noted “we have a very robust supply chain with suppliers we know. They trust in us that we’ll be there to support them. Along the way there are challenges,” but the company is always planning for success. “In 2021 we delivered more than 2,100 products – that is a 98.5% on-time delivery of the content,” he concluded.

Marty Kauchak reporting from Arlington, VA for MON

An artist’s rendering of the USCG’s new class of OPC. (Image: Northrop Grumman)

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