Opc Picture

Representative drawing of what the new Offshore Patrol Cutter might look like. Source: U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard has chosen General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) to be one of three defense contractors to participate in a new contract that could ultimately become worth $12 billion, General Dynamics confirmed Friday. Bloomberg reports that the other two winners are privately held Bollinger Shipyards Lockport LLC and Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc, while Huntington Ingalls is now officially out of the running.

The contract, dubbed the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) program, will consist of at least two phases. In Phase 1, General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works division will work in conjunction with Spain's Navantia, S.A. and America's L-3 Communications on a $21.4 million contract to design a next-generation ship to replace the Coast Guard's aging fleet of Medium Endurance Cutters.

The new OPCs will feature increased range and endurance, more powerful weapons, a larger flight deck and improved command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, says General Dynamics.

General Dynamics' team, and its rivals, will have 18 months to finish Phase I design work on such a ship. At that time, the Coast Guard will choose one team to advance to Phase II of the contract -- detailed designs and construction.

The winner of Phase II will be asked to build between nine and 11 OPCs, en route to an eventual fleet of 25 ships.

In other news, Reuters is reporting today that General Dynamics has won a contract that could be worth up to $13 billion for its Canadian division to build light-armored vehicles that will be sold to Saudi Arabia. The 14-year contract will create and sustain more than 3,000 jobs each year in Canada, according to the Canadian government.

Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Dynamics and L-3 Communications Holdings. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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