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Rubio, Scott Introduce Bill to Provide Coast Guard with Needed Authority to Build Offshore Patrol Cutters

Jul 31, 2019 | Press Releases

Washington D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced the Restore Coast Guard Capabilities Act, which would give the U.S. Coast Guard the authority to take into account the impacts of Hurricane Michael’s to modify its Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) contract with Panama City-based Eastern Shipbuilding. On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc in Northwest Florida, and made history as one of only four category 5 hurricanes to make landfall on the U.S. mainland. The Coast Guard has requested this authority that would provide much needed flexibility to modify the OPC contract, while not exceeding the original affordability requirement set forth by the government in the existing contract, as a result of skyrocketing labor costs due to Hurricane Michael. The Coast Guard maintains that acquisition of the OPC is its highest investment priority.

“Hurricane Michael had a devastating impact on Northwest Florida’s communities and economy, including impeding the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter project and subsequently jeopardizing thousands of local jobs,” Rubio said. “Acquisition of the Offshore Patrol Cutter is critical to the Coast Guard’s mission, and our national security, and it is imperative that we ensure this program stays on target. I thank my fellow Florida Senator, Rick Scott, for joining me in this important effort.”

Eastern Shipbuilding is under contract with the Coast Guard to deliver up to 25 OPCs, the Coast Guard’s highest priority investment program. However, Hurricane Michael significantly damaged Tyndall Air Force Base and the labor needed to rebuild the base is competing directly with the labor to fulfill the OPC contract. As a result, the Coast Guard has requested authorization from Congress to be able to potentially revisit the contract to take into account the increased labor costs associated with the category 5 hurricane.