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The US Coast Guard needs higher Interoperability and networking levels. Modern threat environments require more dispersed, yet interoperable mission tasks, a dual-pronged tactical approach well suited to the Coast Guard mission objectives which often include a need for ships to operate by themselves for sustained periods of time while pursuing missions.
A new Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) will provide the majority of offshore presence for the US Coast Guard’s cutter fleet, reflecting the service’s intention to pursue a wider strategic envelope and strengthen its ability to network with other platforms, assets and command centers.
The OPC will execute its missions with drones, an onboard helicopter, and high-speed over-the-horizon capable small boats.
The ship was built with a new generation hull design for greater endurance and fuel efficiency and breakthrough levels of sensors, networking, and command and control systems. The massive 360-foot long vessel will bridge the capabilities of the 418-foot national security cutters, which patrol the open ocean, and the 154-foot fast response cutters, which serve closer to shore.
This is part of why the tactical rationale for the ship’s mission scope includes the greater use of drones and advanced networking to align the Coast Guard mission more fully with Navy and Marine Corps objectives. The OPC’s technological configuration is designed to improve interoperability and its broadening mission scope aligns with a just-released Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps maritime warfare strategy document, according to nationalinterest.org.
The collaborative ship development effort is pursued by an Eastern Shipbuilding Group-Northrop Grumman team. The companies’ focus on a new generation of technology is specifically intended to support the new strategy. For example, improved networking and surveillance systems and an advanced hull design can help facilitate more dispersed operations and greater strengthened interoperability with Navy and Marine Corps missions.