Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Coast Guard extended the contract for Panama City-based Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) to build four Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) ships, garnering the applause of officials from the Sunshine State.
Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke to outgoing acting U.S. Homeland Security Sec. Kevin McAleenan about the decision.
“This is great news for Northwest Florida and our entire state,” said DeSantis on Friday. “One year ago, Hurricane Michael devastated this community and we’ve been working hard every day since to rebuild and recover. Without this extraordinary relief, countless jobs for Floridians would have been lost and our national defense would have been diminished. Acting Secretary McAleenan realized this, and I thank him for this decision.”
“Eastern Shipbuilding’s request for extraordinary relief was carefully considered,” said Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz. “This review validated the essential contributions the OPC will provide to our national security and determined that providing the necessary relief in this exceptional situation is consistent with the law, fiscally responsible, and the most expeditious and responsible way to deliver the OPC and its essential and improved capabilities for the benefit of the American public and our national and homeland security.”
Earlier in the year, Florida’s two U.S. senators–Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott–teamed up to bring out the “Restore Coast Guard Capabilities Act,” a proposal to “give the U.S. Coast Guard the authority to take into account the impacts of Hurricane Michael to modify” the contract with ESG. Both senators cheered the news at the end of last week.
“Since Hurricane Michael hit last year, I’ve been fighting to make sure Florida families and businesses have everything they need to fully recover and get back to their normal lives. I applaud the Coast Guard’s decision to continue the Offshore Patrol Cutter project in Panama City as the community keeps working to rebuild from the storm. This is incredible news for the local economy and the many families who depend on these jobs, and ensures the Coast Guard has the resources it needs to protect our national security,” Scott said.
“Today’s announcement provides much-needed certainty for the Coast Guard and Northwest Florida’s communities,” Rubio said. “Hurricane Michael had a devastating impact on our local economy, including impeding the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter project and subsequently jeopardizing thousands of local jobs. I am grateful the administration took action to protect America’s national security and continue Florida’s recovery from one of the most destructive storms to ever make landfall.”
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.