Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc. (ESG), Panama City, Fla., yesterday hosted the keel authentication ceremony for the second vessel in the U.S. Coast Guard’s new offshore patrol cutter (OPC) program, the future USCGC Chase (WMSM-916).
Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz, and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Chair of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and ship sponsor, delivered remarks to mark the occasion, along with ESG President Joey D’Isernia.
“Here at Eastern we start each day with the recognition that we are building a new era of cutters for the young women and men of the United States Coast Guard who will sail in them on critical National Security missions for decades to come. From our thirteen hundred family members to your nearly 60,000 active duty, reserve, and civilian workforce… our pledge remains the same—these cutters will always get you home,” said D’Isernia.
The keel authentication, also known as keel laying, represents the ceremonial start of a ship’s life by commemorating the assembly of the initial modular construction units. Historically, to attest that the keel was properly laid and of excellent quality, the shipbuilder would carve their initials into the keel. This practice is commemorated by welding the ship’s sponsor’s initials into the keel authentication plate.
Last month, ESG was awarded contract modifications to begin construction of hull three of the OPC program, the future USCGC Ingham and to purchase long lead materials for hull four.