The cutters are the next generation of patrol boats, bigger and faster than the current vessels, which date back to the 1970s. The Coast Guard awarded Bollinger $597 million in contracts to build 12 cutters. If the Coast Guard exercises all of its options over the next ten years, the contract could be worth $1.5 billion and include building 34 cutters. The contracts are adding to Bollinger’s backlog and will guarantee continued work for about 600 employees in Lockport.
Governor Jindal said, “Four years ago, the Coast Guard was looking for a company to design and build the most advanced class of cutters to protect America’s shores. Bollinger Shipyards was entrusted with this contract, because the Coast Guard knew about the quality of work done at the shipyard. These vessels are designed to be workhorses in protecting the ports and waterways around South Florida from foreign threats, drug traffickers and those who violate America’s immigration laws. This work at Bollinger continues Louisiana’s rich history of helping the military protect our nation. We should take pride in knowing that these vessels – that will be used to protect the nation’s interests – are being built right here by the hardworking men and women of Louisiana.”
Since 1984, Bollinger has built nearly 138 high-speed patrol vessels used by the Coast Guard. The Fast Response Cutters are 154 feet long and have a 24-member crew. The older cutters are 110 feet long and have a 16-member crew. The cutters are capable of traveling at speeds in excess of 32 mph and are equipped with one remote-controlled chain gun and four crew-operated machine guns. The cutter also has a 26-foot chase boat, which can travel at speeds of up to 50 mph.
The vessels will operate out of the Coast Guard’s 7th District, which stretches from South Carolina to the Caribbean. The first ship, the Bernard C. Webber, is set to go into service in April and will be based in Miami. The first six ships will be based in Miami, the next six will be based in Key West, Fla., and six after that will be based in Puerto Rico.
“This program reflects the Coast Guard’s continued confidence in the quality products delivered by the Bollinger team, including our workforce and team of suppliers and contractors,” said Chris Bollinger, the company’s executive vice president of new construction.