The Legend-class National Security Cutter (NSC) is the centerpiece of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging operations, including supporting maritime homeland security and defense missions.
The largest and most technologically advanced of the Coast Guard’s newest classes of cutters, the NSCs replace the aging 378-foot High Endurance Cutters, which have been in service since the 1960s. Compared to legacy cutters, the NSCs’ design provides better sea-keeping and higher sustained transit speeds, greater endurance and range, and the ability to launch and recover small boats from astern, as well as aviation support facilities and a flight deck for helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The NSC project began under the Deepwater Program as an eight-ship class intended to replace the aging 378-foot High Endurance Cutters (WHECs). The first three NSCs–Bertholf, Waesche and Stratton–were acquired under contract with the Integrated Coast Guard Systems industry consortium. As part of the Integrated Deepwater System contract, the NSCs initially were built under a cost-plus-award fee contract. As each subsequent cutter underwent sea trials prior to acceptance and delivery, it became clear that lessons learned through the design and construction processes had improved the efficiency of the building process.
The next two cutters–NSCs 4 and 5–are being built at Pascagoula, Miss., under fixed-price, incentive-type production contracts.