On May 14, fabrication began for the Coast Guard’s fifth National Security Cutter (NSC), marking the official start of the cutter’s production phase. Start Fabrication, as the milestone is officially called, begins after 100 tons of steel for the ship have been cut during pre-fabrication.
The fifth NSC, the James, is being built at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
To begin fabrication, the Coast Guard’s Project Resident Office Gulf Coast validated that all scheduled pre-fabrication activities, which began on March 5, were completed. Ingalls Shipbuilding began fabrication with more than 576 short tons of steel plate, as well as shapes cut for 23 of 45 unit assemblies, exceeding Start Fabrication requirements and putting the fifth NSC in a strong position for production.
The fifth NSC is named for Joshua James, who is credited with saving more than 600 lives along the New England coastline during a nearly 60-year career in the 1800s with the U.S. Life Saving Service.
A production and delivery contract for the James was awarded to Huntington Ingalls Industries in September 2011. The James’ next key milestone will be the keel-laying, set for May 2013.
The Coast Guard plans to acquire eight NSCs. The first two cutters of the class, the Bertholf and the Waesche, are fully operational and executing Coast Guard missions. The third NSC, the Stratton, was commissioned on April 27, and the fourth NSC, the Hamilton, is under construction.
The Legend-class NSC is the hallmark 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 418-foot NSCs will replace the aging 378-foot High Endurance Cutters, which have been in service since the 1960s.
For more information on the National Security Cutter, please visit the project’s website at http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/NSC.