Birdon America Inc. has been awarded a US$1.187 billion contract to design and build 27 Waterways Commerce Cutters (WCC) for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). The WCC contract is comprised of two separate but related vessel designs: the River Buoy Tender (WLR) and the Inland Construction Tender (WLIC). Both variants are complex, modern, and designed to military standards. The new cutter design is expected to provide up to 11 days of accommodation and habitability for up to 19 crew members. The 27 vessels will be constructed within a 10 year period commencing with an 18 month design finalisation period.
The WCC vessels are essential to maintain and protect the United States’ intra-coastal and inland Marine Transportation System. This System spreads over 12,000 miles of commercially active inland waterways through which 630 million tons of cargo moves annually, accounting for more than USD 5.4 trillion annually and 30.7 million jobs for the U.S. economy. To support the safe and efficient flow of economic activity along these U.S. rivers, lakes, intercoastal waterways and harbours, WCCs establish and maintain over 28,200 inland Federal Aids to Navigation (ATON). Additional missions include search and rescue (SAR), marine safety, marine environmental protection, and ports, waterways, and coastal security.
Birdon is building on its experience and expertise in leading program management, design, manufacture, and support of the USCG and U.S. Army watercraft programs, by teaming with carefully selected partners. Bollinger Shipyards (Bollinger) and Incat Crowther will be key subcontractors to Birdon. Bollinger has a long history building vessels for the USCG, delivering 174 vessels in the last three decades alone. Bollinger will subcontract to Birdon for production of the bare hulls. All of Birdon’s production activities will take place in Lockport, Louisiana.
Birdon has established a succesful track record with the U.S. Coast Guard during the last three years through its existing contract for the 47’ Motor Lifeboat Service Life Extension Program. “We are confident that we represent a low risk, high-performing, and long-term partner for the Coast Guard on the WCC Program. Birdon, and our partners Bollinger and Incat Crowther, look forward to continuing our successful relationship with the Coast Guard for years to come,” said Birdon CEO, Jamie Bruce.