Years of determination and millions of man hours of labor came together Friday as Eastern Shipbuilding Group christened and launched the offshore patrol cutter (OPC) Argus at their shipyard in Panama City, the first federal ship to be built in Florida in over 70 years.
This new lead cutter in the Heritage Class of the U.S. Coast Guard medium-endurance cutters will soon head to protect United States interests off the coast of Los Angeles, California.
Over 3,000 people were on hand for the ceremony which was presided over by Commandant Linda Fagan and included remarks from Rep. Neal Dunn.
“This vessel is a testament to the grit and determination that defines our community,” said Joey D’Isernia, CEO of Eastern Shipbuilding Group,
The contract was awarded to Eastern Shipbuilding Group in October 2016 to build the first offshore patrol cutter with options for up to a total of eight total ships. In September 2018, the Coast Guard executed contract documents to begin Argus and the second cutter one month before Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida panhandle and the shipyard facilities.
Even so, Eastern was able to cut the first steel for Argus on time in January 2019. Production was maintained through unprecedented challenges including the global COVID-19 pandemic and the supply chain issues that impacted businesses world-wide.
Argus is the second ship to carry that name. The first was the USRC Argus which was a Revenue Cutter Service ship that was decommissioned in 1804. The Revenue Cutter Service was later merged with the United States Lifesaving Service to create the modern day United States Coast Guard.
The new USCG Argus WM-915 is 360 feet long and 56 feet wide. Jason Vanderhaden, 13th USCG Master Chief Petty Officer (Ret), now works as a crew liaison for Eastern Shipbuilding Group and told the Star “The Argus was designed in a collaboration between Eastern Shipbuilding Group and Coast Guard Stakeholders to not only carry cutting edge technology, but an enhanced crew experience allowing them to work more efficiently and be more comfortable during their missions.” The Argus has a range of over 10,000 miles and can spend up to 60 days at sea.
Eastern Shipbuilding Group is currently continuing work on three additional offshore patrol cutters for the Coast Guard. They have shipyards in Port St. Joe, Allanton, and Panama City.