Ceremonies mark delivery of first Deepwater cutter
During a celebration to commemorate the delivery of the first Deepwater surface asset under the Integrated Deepwater System, Coast Guard Commandant ADM Thomas H. Collins today returned the Coast Guard Ensign to the USCG Cutter MATAGORDA, at Bollinger Shipyards, in Lockport, Louisiana.
The ceremony today celebrated the delivery of the first newly completed 123-foot patrol boat, USCGC MATAGORDA, produced by HBJV, a joint venture of Bollinger Shipyards LLC and VT Halter Marine, Inc of Gulfport, Miss. HBJV is a sub-contractor to Northrop Grumman Ships Systems sector, a partner in Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS), a joint venture of Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT). In June 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded the Deepwater contract to ICGS.
The USCGC MATAGORDA had been a 110-foot patrol boat and served in South Florida and the Caribbean since 1986, before entering the Deepwater program last year. MATAGORDA is the first cutter to undergo extensive modernization and upgrade under the comprehensive and innovative Integrated Deepwater System Program. During the renovation, MATAGORDA received extensive crew quarter improvements, a state-of-the-art C4ISR suite upgrade for greatly increased capabilities in communications, detection and prosecution, and had its overall length extended 13 feet, to accommodate the addition of a stern boat launch ramp, among other improvements.
MATAGORDA is one of a total class of 49 Island Class cutters, 25 of which typically operate in the Seventh Coast Guard District, and all of which are intended to undergo modernization. These cutters are considered to be the workhorses of the fleet and contribute significantly to the accomplishment of the Coast Guard's roles and missions.
The 110-foot Island Class cutters were originally built at Bollinger Lockport from 1984-1991 and are based on a Vosper Thornycroft parent design.
Each is now being brought to the Bollinger Lockport facility for a major conversion. The cutter's exterior shell plate is sand blasted and a full ultrasonic survey (over 2000 shots on the 110-foot cutter)is performed. Any area where the steel hull has 10% or more corrosion or waste from original construction is replaced.
Each ship has its transom removed and a 13-foot extension is then added to the stern of the cutter to allow for the addition of a stern launch and recovery system for the cutter's rigid inflatable boat (RIB). The existing crane-launched 5-meter RIB is replaced with a more capable, diesel powered 7-meter RIB with a greater operating range, capable of operating in heavier sea states and containing a robust electronics suite.
The entire superstructure of the cutter is removed and replaced with a new arrangement. Five two-person staterooms are accommodated on the main deck, which allows for a mixed gender crew (a long term goal of the Coast Guard). This area also provides a ship's office with an emergency triage station improving the cutter's ability to provide medical assistance to search and rescue (SAR) victims or crewmembers. The new superstructures are constructed by VT Halter and transported to Bollinger's Lockport shipyard for incorporation into the cutter.
The existing bridge is replaced with an ergonomically designed command and control station that will improve watch stander efficiency. The bridge will have 360-degree visibility and ample space to accommodate additional watchstanders during periods of demanding operations.
With the new berthing on the main deck, the existing noisy berthing area on the second deck aft,is converted to a workshop for underway repairs for main diesel engines and auxiliary plant. Additional cold and dry storage has been added which increases the cutters' endurance.
The electronic suite is upgraded to "state of the art" including the ability to display a common operating picture of the entire theater of operations and the sharing of surveillance and recognizance information from other Coast Guard assets. The communications system will include not only new voice, but data and video transmission and reception capabilities that will improve the cutter's operational effectiveness.