GAO denies Ingalls, VT Halter Marine protest over Coast Guard patrol cutters

tleytham@sunherald.comJune 30, 2014 

The Government Accountability Office on Monday denied a protest from Huntington Ingalls and VT Halter Marine over the award of design contracts for U.S. Coast Guard offshore patrol cutters.

In its 21-page report, the GAO said Huntington Ingalls and VT Halter Marine did not demonstrate that the selection process was unequitable, and found no merit to their challenges based on technical or past performance evaluations.

The contracts -- which could eventually be worth about $12 billion -- were awarded to three companies -- Bath Iron Works Corporation, of Bath, Maine; Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc., of Panama City, Fla., and Bollinger Shipyards Lockport, LLC, of Lockport, La.

Each received design awards worth about $22 million.

The Coast Guard offshore patrol cutter is smaller than the national security cutter ships built at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula. On Monday, Ingalls Shipbuilding received a $76.5 million fixed-price contract from the U.S. Coast Guard to purchase long-lead materials for the eighth national security cutter, Midgett.

Ingalls chose to protest after receiving a debriefing of the offshore patrol cutter evaluation in February, Ingalls spokesman Bill Glenn said at that time.

"Ingalls Shipbuilding offered the Coast Guard a strong, fully compliant proposal to provide a very capable, cost effective offshore patrol cutter design and believe our protest has merit," he said.

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