July 20, 2022 Updated 10:45 A.M. ET
TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis called it a “misguided decision” for the U.S. Coast Guard not to award Panama City’s Eastern Shipbuilding with the second phase of its Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) program, which is up for 11 cutters.
“Despite Eastern Shipbuilding Group’ success in the OPC program, Biden’s DHS gave a foreign-owned entity – one that is under federal investigation & has never built or tested a steel ship – its largest contract ever,” DeSantis said Tuesday.
Eastern Shipbuilding Group is a premier builder of U.S. military and commercial marine vessels with three shipyards on the Florida Gulf Coast.
“Biden should reconsider this misguided decision & stand up for jobs in NW FL,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio slammed the U.S. Coast Guard for its decision June 30, 2022.
“Today’s decision is short-sighted,” Rubio said. “When I visited Eastern Shipbuilding last year, I saw firsthand their commitment to building reliable, state-of-the-art ships. They have proven they can do the job and do it well. This decision will cost taxpayers more money and slow down the delivery of these critical vessels.”
The Coast Guard awarded the first OPC contract to Eastern in 2016.
Federal officials announced that Austal USA would receive the $3 billion contract.
In July of 2022, Austal USA announced it would start construction on the company’s first steel ship.
Congressman Neal Dunn said the decision not to award the contract to Eastern Shipbuilding will affect the region. There are technical schools and state colleges that supply a workforce for Eastern. Dunn will meet with Coast Guard officials to begin his formal protest of their decision.
Dunn said Austal has “zero experience building steel hull ships.”
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