Mar 31 2014
By April M. Havens
PASCAGOULA, Mississippi -- Ingalls Shipbuilding's Pascagoula yard has secured a $497 million contract to build a seventh National Security Cutter for the U.S. Coast Guard, the company announced today.
"We have a hot production line with this class of ships, and we continue to get better--a tangible result demonstrating the value of serial production," said Ingalls NSC Program Manager Jim French.
"Each ship is built more effectively and more affordably than the one before it, and this is due to the hard work of our shipbuilders who are implementing efficient build plans and bringing our learning curve down as each ship is delivered," he said. "We look forward to starting construction on this ship in January 2015."
Ingalls has delivered the first three of eight planned cutters. Bertholf (WMSL 750), Waesche (WMSL 751) and Stratton (WMSL 752) are in service.
Hamilton (WMSL 753) is 81 percent complete, with delivery slated for later this year, and Joshua James (WMSL 754) is 52 percent complete and will launch in April.
Workers began construction on Munro (WMSL 755) late last year, and it is scheduled for launch in the fourth quarter of 2015.
This seventh ship, Kimball (WMSL 756), is scheduled for delivery in 2018.
The 418-foot ships are the Coast Guard's newest class of technologically advanced cutters. They have a top speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles, an endurance of 60 days and a crew of 110.
The Legend-class ships, which are replacing the 378-foot Hamilton-class cutters of the 1960s, can be used for a multitude of tasks, including drug interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection and national defense missions.
U.S. Senator Thad Cochran said the Department of Homeland Security is amending an existing contract with Ingalls to provide fiscal year 2014 appropriations to construct NSC 7.
"National Security Cutters provide the Coast Guard with vessels that improve its ability to protect the nation's coasts and waterways from terrorism, human trafficking, drug smuggling and other maritime threats," he said. "This award affirms the good work being done by Mississippi shipbuilders to modernize the Coast Guard fleet."
The contact modifies an existing June 2013 contract that provided $76.8 million to Huntington Ingalls Industries to procure long lead time materials for production of NSC 7.
"These extremely versatile, high-value ships are employed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Defense, and law enforcement agencies," said U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Biloxi. "Each of these cutters bear the proud mark of Mississippi's world-class workforce which continues to deliver these ships on-time and on-budget.
"We worked hard to ensure this year's budget included funding for both the seventh and eighth National Security Cutters."
At a recent House Homeland Security Committee Hearing, Palazzo questioned the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Robert J. Papp, regarding a two-year budget bill signed in January that provided funding for both a seventh and an eighth NSC.
In that exchange, Papp admitted that budget relief made the extra cutters possible, stating: "We did not think we were going to get to eight National Security Cutters, and we are on the verge of getting that now."