The U.S. Coast Guard’s third National Security Cutter (NSC), Stratton, successfully completed several days of acceptance trials that included rigorous tests to ensure the cutter meets all its contractual requirements and is ready for delivery to the service. Stratton’s acceptance trials were conducted in Pascagoula, Miss., and at sea in the Gulf of Mexico by the Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).
Acceptance trials are the final significant milestone, or final exam, before the government takes ownership of a new cutter. Representatives from INSURV inspected all of Stratton’s systems, tested its shipboard equipment, examined the quality of the cutter’s construction and evaluated its performance and compliance with the contractual specifications to identify any major deficiencies that need to be corrected prior to delivery. INSURV indicated that the Coast Guard’s systems are maturing.
“NSC 3 acceptance trials were a very safe and well- executed evolution,” said Rear Adm. Bruce D. Baffer, the Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate’s program executive officer. “We got underway on schedule, successfully demonstrated all contractual requirements and returned three hours early, flying two brooms, signifying a clean sweep of all challenges during at-sea testing. This was a significant step toward providing a new cutter greatly needed by our Coast Guard operators.”
Based upon its findings, INSURV will soon make a formal recommendation regarding the cutter’s acceptance to the Coast Guard. Over the next few weeks, the Coast Guard will work with the shipbuilder, Huntington Ingalls Industries, to adjudicate identified discrepancies prior to Stratton’s acceptance. Stratton is expected to be delivered to the Coast Guard in early September.
Acceptance trials resulted in two starred cards for Stratton, compared to three starred cards for the second NSC, Waesche, and eight starred cards for the first NSC, Bertholf. Starred cards are discrepancies that must be corrected before delivery or waived by the government.
Stratton’s builder’s trials earlier this summer resulted in no major issues with the cutter’s important command, control, communications and computers systems. Prior to acceptance, an NSC must pass more than 400 tests, including approximately 60 conducted during sea trials.
The Stratton is named for Capt. Dorothy Stratton, who became the first director of the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, known as the SPARs, in 1942. The Stratton is the first Coast Guard cutter sponsored by a first lady and was christened by Michelle Obama on July 23, 2010.
The 418-foot NSC is the flagship of the Coast Guard’s recapitalized fleet and the most technologically capable cutter in the service’s history. The NSC is the first Coast Guard cutter to feature both a small boat stern launch and a helicopter flight deck, and is the only U.S. Department of Homeland Security maritime asset able to protect its crew against biological, radiological and chemical threats.
The first two NSCs, Bertholf and Waesche, have been commissioned and are currently executing Coast Guard missions. The production contract for the fourth NSC was awarded in November 2010 and construction is scheduled to begin at the end of August. The Coast Guard plans to acquire a total of eight NSCs.
For more information: National Security Cutter project page