Construction of the ship, to be named James, is scheduled to begin this spring at the Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. following prefabrication.
Captain Joshua James, the namesake of the cutter, served in the U.S. Life Saving Service for nearly sixty years. The U.S. Life Saving Service is a predecessor service of the U.S. Coast Guard. Patrolling the shores of Hull, Mass., James participated in his first rescue at age 15 and received his first of many lifesaving medals at the age of 23. In 1876 James became the keeper of four lifesaving stations in Hull, including Point Allerton. During his career, James was credited with saving more than 600 people and has been hailed as the world's most celebrated lifesaver.
"The contract award for production and delivery of the fifth NSC is an important step forward in the Coast Guard's efforts to recapitalize its aging surface fleet," said Rear Adm. Bruce Baffer, the Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate's program executive officer. "The NSC is desperately needed to replace the service's 40-year-old high endurance cutters and to be able to perform today's challenging homeland security missions."
"Ingalls has continued ship-to-ship performance improvements on the National Security Cutter program, and this contract affirms the Coast Guard's confidence in our shipbuilders," said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Irwin. F. Edenzon. "We focus every day on meeting our safety, quality, cost and schedule goals. We're doing it right and doing it better, and we intend to keep meeting our commitments to our U.S. Coast Guard customer."
Ingalls has delivered the first three NSCs, which are the flagship of the Coast Guard's cutter fleet, designed to replace the 378‐foot Hamilton-class High-Endurance Cutters, which entered service during the 1960s. Stratton (WMSL 752), the third of eight planned ships in this new class of highly capable, technologically advanced multi-mission cutters, was delivered to the Coast Guard on Sept. 2. Bertholf (WMSL 750) and Waesche (WMSL 751) have been commissioned and are successfully executing Coast Guard missions.
The start-of-fabrication milestone, signifying 100 tons of steel have been cut, took place for the fourth cutter, Hamilton (WMSL 753), on Aug. 29. This same milestone for WMSL 754 is scheduled for second quarter 2012, with delivery expected in mid-2015.
Ingalls builds the NSC hulls and mechanical and electrical systems, while Lockheed Martin builds and integrates the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities.
The Legend class National Security Cutter is 418 feet long with an operational range of 12,000 nautical miles, a top speed of 28 knots and a 60-day endurance. These cutters routinely conduct operations from South America to the Bering Sea where their combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, counter-narcotics and homeland security operations at great distances from shore keeping threats far from the U.S. mainland.
The Coast Guard says that recent improvements in its acquisition process have provided increased stability over major acquisition programs such as the National Security Cutters. It says that stable vessel requirements have allowed the service to control costs and establish realistic project schedules. As a result of learning gained by the shipyard and the Coast Guard during the construction of the first four NSCs, the program is achieving efficiencies in cost and schedule.
Two National Security Cutters, the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf and the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, have been commissioned and the third, Stratton, was delivered Sept. 2. The U.S. Coast Guard plans to acquire a total of eight National Security Cutters.
September 11, 2011
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