The U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) report on the U.S. Coast Guard’s second National Security Cutter (NSC), Waesche, recommended acceptance and lauded the cutter as a “very clean and capable platform,” that met or exceeded readiness expectations. The report was issued on Oct. 14, 2009, following rigorous acceptance trials conducted off the coast of Pascagoula, Miss., from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, 2009 by the Coast Guard and INSURV. Acceptance trials identify deficiencies and ensure the cutter meets its contractual requirements to determine if the ship is ready to be delivered to the government.
During acceptance trials, each discrepancy is noted on an electronic trial card. There were 3,174 trial cards for Waesche, and only three “starred cards” – a term referring to those discrepancies which must be corrected before delivery or waived by the Component Acquisition Executive. Of the 3,174 trials cards, more than 60 percent (1,924) were identified during previous trial events by the Coast Guard’s Project Resident Office (PRO) Gulf Coast. The report authors called this high rate of rollover cards, “a testament to the superb quality assurance oversight provided during the ship’s construction and testing by the Coast Guard Project Resident Office and the Navy Supervisor of Shipbuilding Gulf Coast.” The positive results of Waesche’s acceptance trials reflect lessons learned from the first National Security Cutter, Bertholf (WMSL-750). Compared to Bertholf, Waesche experienced a significant reduction in the number of trial cards for its various systems: communication and navigation, 80 percent reduction; main propulsion, 66 percent reduction; and aviation, deck, electrical and operations, 50 percent reduction.
Acceptance trials consisted of two days of in-port inspections and two days underway, concluding with a final day disassembling specific equipment for additional examination. Operations demonstrated while underway included various ship maneuvers such as full power, high-speed turns and crash stops; small-boat launch and recovery; and use of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems. Altogether, 288 Coast Guard, INSURV and contractor personnel were aboard Waesche for the trials. The Coast Guard selected INSURV to conduct the trials because of its role as an independent verifier and its experience and expertise performing acceptance trials for all new ship construction for the U. S. Navy.
Over the next several weeks, the Coast Guard will work with the shipbuilder to address the starred discrepancies (ship’s anchor dimensions, incinerator, and degaussing system) and develop plans to resolve all outstanding trial cards. Delivery of Waesche is scheduled for early November 2009 in Pascagoula. Waesche will then enter “In Commission Special” status prior to formal commissioning. “In Commission Special” status indicates the cutter is not performing regular patrols, but is engaged in crew training and equipment testing prior to beginning normal operations. Her sail away from Pascagoula is scheduled for late December. Final acceptance of Waesche will occur following a year-long warranty period and completion of Final Acceptance Trials.
The 418-foot Waesche is the second ship in the new Legend-class of cutters designed to be the flagship of the Coast Guard’s modernized fleet. Eight cutters are planned for the class.
For more information on the National Security Cutter, please visit the project’s website at http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/NSC.