August 4, 2008
USCG commissions first National Security Cutter
The Coast Guard has marked its 218th birthday by commissioning the first National Security Cutter, USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750), into the fleet in ceremonies at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, Calif.
The ship was built by Northrop Grumman's Pascagoula, Miss. shipyard under the much troubled--and now much reformed--Deepwater acquisition program.
But at the commissioning Deepwater's past woes weren't on parade.
"I know firsthand that the ship we commission today will be the most capable ship that the Coast Guard has ever sailed," said Rep. Elijah Cummings from Maryland's seventh district and Chairman of the House Coast Guard subcommittee. "Hopefully our children will look back on this day of Aug. 4, 2008 and say that under their watch, they created a great ship, and that ship is going out to defend our way of life, guard our borders, interdict drugs and make sure our nation is safe."
Meryl Chertoff, the ship's sponsor and wife of the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, ordered the men and women of the Bertholf crew to "man our ship and bring her to life." The crew responded with an "aye aye ma'am" and double-timed it through the 2,500 spectators on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif.
"We are in an era of a persistent conflict, with hazards and threats to be dealt with," said U.S. Coast Guard commandant Adm. Thad Allen. "This ship represents a remarkable step forward, not only in capability and capacity, but also in the competency of this crew. Today, the crew will bring this ship to life and Bertholf will be up to the challenges of the 21st century."
U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Patrick H. Stadt, of Ft. Belvoir, Va., assumed command as commanding officer of Bertholf. The ship will be homeported in Alameda.
Bertholf, is named to honor Commodore Ellsworth P. Bertholf, the first commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. The ship is 418 feet long, with a 54-foot beam. Powered by a twin-screw combined diesel and gas turbine power propulsion plant, the NSC is designed to travel at 28 knots maximum speed.