An artist illustration of the U.S. Coast Guard's Polar Security Cutter. Image courtesy VT Halter Marine

VT Halter Marine Preparing Yard for Polar Security Cutter Construction

Mike Schuler
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January 7, 2021

Mississippi-based VT Halter Marine is in the process of getting its Pascagoula yard ready for the construction of the Coast Guard’s next-generation icebreaker, the Polar Security Cutter.

The yard is expected to complete upgrades to the launch way area in July where the 460-foot-long PSC will be built. The launch way has been fortified to accommodate the PSC’s 19,000-ton launch weight, the heaviest vessel per foot ever built at the yard.

“Based on weight per foot, the PSC outweighs those vessels,” said Bob Merchent, President and CEO of Halter Marine, referring to Crowley’s Taino and El Coqui, previously the two heaviest vessels ever constructed at the shipyard. “The PSC needs 22 tons of capacity per linear foot of rail line, and we have designed the new launch way to accommodate 27 tons per linear foot. We are preparing for our newest vessel while also looking forward to future, larger vessels.”

The upgrade project began in July 2020 with the removal of 11 launch way rail lines. Crews then dug 1,283 holes that were filled with grout and concrete to serve as new piles. These piles will transfer the PSC’s heavy load to a deeper level than previously possible.

“Each drilled hole is 110 feet long, and we are pouring 27 miles of piles,” said Kevin Amis, Executive Vice President of Operations for Halter Marine. “We are completing this project with a perfect safety record. I’m proud of the women and men at Halter Marine and Malouf Construction for accomplishing this invaluable project with a true focus on safety.”

In 2019, Halter Marine was awarded the $745 million contract for the design and construction of the United States’ first new heavy icebreaker in more than 40 years. The award is part of a multi-year Department of Homeland Security program to acquire up to three multi-mission PSCs to recapitalize the Coast Guard’s heavy icebreaker fleet. The contract includes two options which, if exercised, would bring the the cumulative value of the contract to more than $1.9 billion.

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