A RENDERING of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter, provided by Bath Iron Works. The shipyard is attempting to win a contract in order to build the vessel.

A RENDERING of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter, provided by Bath Iron Works. The shipyard is attempting to win a contract in order to build the vessel.

BATH

Bath Iron Works was one of three shipyards to submit a bid for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter program on Tuesday.

The contract will be awarded later this year.

Preparations for the cutter bid had prompted early negotiations between the company and the union last year, resulting in a four-year contract that was narrowly passed by the union in December.

Rich Nolon, who recently replaced Jay Wadleigh as president of the Local S6 Union, was positive about the efforts made by both the union and the company, though he cautioned that time will tell whether certain agreements would still be upheld.

“I see a different approach from the company in implementing contract changes than I’ve seen in other contract years … there seems to be some desire to roll this out correctly on the company’s part and avoid some of those grievances and bickering,” he said.

“Not that we don’t have some disagreements at this point, but we’re trying to work through those,” Nolon added.

“Everyone in the company is working hard to make BIW more affordable and competitive,” BIW spokesman Matt Wickenheiser said on Thursday. “There’s a lot to do, but we’re working together on these challenges.”

The total cost of the program for 25 cutters has an estimated value of $10.5 billion, according to Brian Olexy, communications manager at the Coast Guard.

In 2014, the Coast Guard awarded BIW, Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana and Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Florida a total of $65 million for preliminary and contract design for the project, of which BIW had received $21.4 million.

After reviewing the three proposals, Olexy said one contractor will be selected for the second phase, which includes detail design and options for up to 11 cutters.

“The Coast Guard will conduct a thorough evaluation of proposals based on technical, management, past performance and price factors,” said Olexy.

The Coast Guard will select one contractor later this year. Following the completion of the phase two contract, the Coast Guard will invite interested companies, including the incumbent, to submit bids for the construction of the remaining 14 vessels, according to Olexy.

The offshore patrol cutter is described by the Coast Guard as “the service’s highest investment priority” equipped with “state-of-themarket technology.” The new cutter will replace two aging classes of vessels used to patrol open ocean and along the shore.

A Coast Guard fact sheet quotes Adm. Paul Zukunft, the service’s commandant, as stating the cutter “will be the backbone of Coast Guard offshore presence and the manifestation of our at-sea authorities. It is essential to stopping smugglers at sea, for interdicting undocumented migrants, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting our ports.”

Nolon said he felt hopeful BIW is in a better position to win the contract, based on “some of the concessions made during negotiations were to get that bid closer.”

However, Nolon expected that cost would be a significant deciding factor for the cutter contract.

“We used to be able to rely on our quality, getting us contracts where we might be a little more expensive, but the quality was so much better that the Navy said it’s worth the extra money. I don’t think it’s so much that our quality has slipped as dollars for different government agencies have reduced and they’ve got to prioritize their spending money,” he said. “I don’t know that BIW is going to have the cheapest of the three bids, but we’re hoping that the bids are all close enough that the quality piece helps us cover that difference.”

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