By Rear Adm. Ronald J. Rábago, US Coast Guard, Program Executive Officer
Over the weekend I spent time aboard Bertholf, the first National Security Cutter, off Pascagoula, Miss. for Builder’s Trials. This is a significant at-sea testing event that demonstrated progress toward our preparation for Acceptance Trials and then Delivery.
While this was the Builder’s Trials, the contractors, under the Coast Guard’s oversight, worked to ensure that this ship met a high standard for pre-testing, safety and overall preparedness for the trials. … I could not be more impressed with the leadership demonstrated in this area by the Coast Guard Program Manager’s Resident Office, Gulf Coast and Bertholf’s Pre-Commissioning Crew.
As I observed during Machinery Trials in December 2007, the ship operated smoothly, quietly and responsively. During Builder’s Trials the vast majority of equipment and systems underwent testing that will prepare the ship for success during Acceptance Trials and, ultimately, Delivery later this spring.
During one high speed run, the view from the fantail with a rooster tail trailing behind the ship was fascinating to watch. As I walked the ship above and below decks, I noted that the ship operated smoothly, even at full power.
In the Operations Center, every screen was energized with Coast Guard, US Navy weapons and contractor support operators monitoring input from the ship’s sensors and testing the functionality of the weapon systems.
We had clear communications with other assets—including aircraft, our Long Range Interceptor cutter boat and shore sites.
The Mk 110 57mm main gun and 20mm Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) targeting and fire control systems were tested. Subsequent live-fire tests with both weapons were successfully performed.
All “hotel” services aboard were functioning well. These systems were stressed, but showed no problems, even with 250 people aboard for the Builder’s Trials (Bertholf is designed for a crew of 148).
I have nearly nine years of sea-duty and I wish I could roll back the clock and serve aboard this cutter when she becomes operational. As Bertholf completes her pre-delivery testing, we are very excited about the capabilities that this ship is going to bring to the Coast Guard.