PANAMA CITY, FL – Today, Eastern Shipbuilding Group christened and launched USCGC ARGUS (WMSM-915), the U.S. Coast Guard’s first Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). The ceremony was held at Eastern’s Nelson St. Shipyard in front of more than 3000 dignitaries and guests. Admiral Linda Fagan, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, delivered the keynote address.
Ship Sponsor, Captain (Ret.) Beverly Kelley, had the honor of Christening the vessel. In her distinguished military career, Captain (Ret.) Kelley was the first woman to command a U.S. military vessel as the Commanding Officer of the 95-foot patrol boat, USCGC CAPE NEWAGEN and was the first woman to command both a medium endurance cutter and a high endurance cutter in USCGC NORTHLAND and USCGC BOUTWELL respectively.
“We are proud to christen this first of class national security asset in front of her crew today,” said Joey D’Isernia, CEO of Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. “With each milestone we reach, our employees are constructing the most advanced and capable ship the U.S. Coast Guard has ever seen.”
“The Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) is one of the Service’s highest acquisition priorities and is absolutely vital to recapitalizing the capability provided by our legacy fleet of 210-foot and 270- foot Medium Endurance Cutters (MEC),” said Adm. Linda Fagan.
“We have overcome unprecedented challenges to arrive at this pivotal moment to witness this spectacular vessel enter the water for the very first time. People are only just beginning to see what this vessel is truly capable of and like the steel forged on her, we will not compromise,” said Joey.
Senator Rick Scott said, “It’s truly a monumental occasion in enhancing our national security as Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s Nelson Shipyard officially christens and launches the U.S. Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutter ARGUS (WMSM-915). Over the past few decades the need for our Coast Guard as grown globally with operations spanning the Artic, Antarctic, Middle East and Indo-Pacific, all while it continues to protect our valuable United States shoreline. This first-in-its-class vessel is a testament to the great coordination between Eastern Shipbuilding and the Coast Guard that now gives the service a much needed upgrade with the tools and capabilities needed for the great women and men of the Coast Guard to take the service even further in the future. As Florida’s U.S. Senator, I am fighting every day to support the continued success of Florida businesses and our Coast Guard as they work to ensure to safety and wellbeing of Americans across the nation.”
“The story of Offshore Patrol Cutter Argus is one of perseverance. Eastern Shipbuilding started working on Argus prior to Hurricane Michael. In the days that followed the storm, the Eastern Shipbuilding team returned to their yard ready to do their part,” said Congressman Dunn. “Despite the challenges of recovering from a catastrophic hurricane, this team stuck together to see this project through. This offshore patrol cutter means so much more than many realize. Argus is a reminder of not only how proud Eastern Shipbuilding and Florida’s Second Congressional District should be of their hard work and determination, but it is also a crucial asset to maintaining national security dominance.”
Over 1500 highly skilled craft employees and program professionals at Eastern Shipbuilding Group and 200 businesses from over 25 states are supporting the production of the first four Offshore Patrol Cutters in Panama City. The OPC is designed to conduct an array of missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction, search and rescue, disaster relief, and other homeland security and defense operations in support of the nation’s maritime security and border protection. The OPC design includes the capability of carrying an MH-60R or MH-65 helicopter and three operational over-the-horizon small boats. The vessel is also equipped with a highly sophisticated Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) suite that will greatly enhance the U.S. Coast Guard’s mission capabilities.
The first OPC is named for the Revenue Cutter Argus, which was one of the first 10 ships assigned to the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, a predecessor service to the U.S. Coast Guard. Revenue Cutter Argus began 13 years of service to the newly formed United States of America in 1791.
About Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc.
Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. (ESG) is an American owned and operated shipbuilder with three shipyards on the Florida Gulf Coast. They build world class vessels for national defense and commercial clients, including the U.S. Coast Guard’s Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutters and the U.S. Army Corps’ new Medium-Class Hopper Dredge (MCHD). ESG is the largest private sector employer in Northwest Florida and is a 2017 recipient of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Small Business of the Year award. With a portfolio of over 350 vessels and Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) and Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) certified systems, ESG is known as one of the most diverse vessel construction companies in the country. www.easternshipbuilding.com