The United States Coast Guard says it has ordered its fifth National Security Cutter from Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in a contract worth $482 million. Construction is scheduled for this spring at the Huntington Ingalls Industries’ yard in Pascagoula, Miss.
“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.”
The cutter, to be named James, is named after Captain Joshua James who served for nearly sixty years in the U.S. Life Saving Service, an early predecessor of the U.S. Coast Guard. Captain James is credited with saving over 600 people throughout his career, his first rescue at the young age of 15 while patrolling the shores of Hull, Mass. James went on to lead a career touted as the world’s most celebrated lifesaver.
“The James will be a state-of-the-art vessel which will enable the Coast Guard to provide persistent presence for safety, security and stewardship of the nation on the sea and in our waters,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Bob Papp. “The signing of this contract exemplifies our service’s 221-year commitment to maintaining a capable cutter fleet to provide military capability, law enforcement authority and life-saving expertise.”
The Legend class National Security Cutter measures 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 have conducted operations from South America to the Bering Sea where the 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.
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.