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Final grand block is lifted into place

January 26 2006

Major milestone for first National Security Cutter

Shipbuilders yesterday erected the final grand block unit on the U.S. Coast Guard's first Deepwater National Security Cutter, Bertholf (WMSL 750}.

Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems sector is building the ship at its Pascagoula, Miss., facility under contract from Integrated Coast Guard Systems LLP, a joint venture of Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

The ship is made up of eight grand blocks. The block erected yesterday--Unit 1120--completes the ship's bow section, encloses the anchor windlass machinery room and covers the chain lockers area ,

Erection of the unit marked a milestone in recovery efforts that have seen innovative production techniques used to keep the ship on track despite the challenges of Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricanes Dennis and Katrina.

"We've battled a few storms, but the diligent work ethic, attention to detail and production efficiencies implemented by our shipbuilding team, have enabled us to maintain great momentum,'' said Jamie Anton, Northrop Grumman's VP and general manager of U.S. Coast Guard Programs.

"We examined every lesson learned from the entire spectrum of production programs here at Ship Systems," noted Anton, who said the yard "implemented metrics and review gates to ensure that we leveraged what we learned."

According to Anton, this "involved the tools we use, the process improvements implemented and even the way we purchase, track and receive materials. Collectively, these new methods enable a streamlined production process that will benefit every Deepwater ship we build.''

Techniques such as designing new jigs and fixtures to improve flatness and fit, kept the ship erection sequence on schedule.

Three dimensional modeling aids provided better planning and construction sequencing, which helps avoid rework.

A forward-looking material approach provided more rapid support, allowing the construction team to build with no gaps in production.

The team's shipbuilders average over 10 years of service -- immediately improving first-time quality shipbuilding unit delivery and attaining a construction quality equivalent to what normally would be accomplished on the fifth ship in a class of ships.

"Completing this milestone so quickly in the wake of the most significant natural disaster in our nation's history is a direct reflection on the dedication and professionalism of the Northrop Grumman workforce and management,'' said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. William S. Krewsky, supervisor, Program Manager's Representative's Office.

The National Security Cutter will be a 418-foot ship with a 4,300-ton displacement at full load. Powered by a twin-screw combined diesel-and-gas turbine-power propulsion plant, the NSC is designed to travel at 28 knots max speed.

The cutter will include an aft launch and recovery area for two rigid-hull inflatable boats; a flight deck to accommodate a range of rotary-wing manned and unmanned aircraft and state-of-the-art command-and-control electronics.