In the News

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Congressman Neal Dunn says he will do everything he can to fight the U.S. Coast Guard's decision to award a massive construction contract to an Alabama shipbuilder owned by a foreign company. 

Federal officials announced Friday that Austal USA, a subsidiary of Australian-based Austal Limited, beat out Eastern Shipbuilding of Panama City for a more than $3 billion contract to build up to 11 Heritage Class Offshore Patrol Cutters. 

The awarded cutters — vessels five through 15 — are part of the Coast Guard's Offshore Patrol Cutter Program, a $10.5 billion project to construct 25 ships, the first four of which Eastern Shipbuilding was commissioned to build.

The Panama City-based company was given the rights for the first 11 ships in 2016, but that contract was reduced to four after Hurricane Michael devastated Bay County and other parts of the Panhandle in October 2018.

"There's every reason in the world to continue with Eastern on this," Dunn told The News Herald on Wednesday. "It's a real disappointment for a lot of reasons, and it affects the whole region. We have technical schools, state colleges from Jacksonville to Pensacola gearing up to supply a workforce for Eastern, so this affects us very, very wildly."