Cutting Edge Cutters

A $480 million contract for a new National Security Cutter (NSC) for the US Coast Guard was awarded Nov. 29 to Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding.

The new ship, which will become the USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753), is the fourth NSC. The new ships are needed to replace a 40-year-old class of cutters that has become harder to keep in service.

Northrop’s Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., already has delivered two NSCs and is working on the Stratton, now 65 percent complete and scheduled to be delivered in the back half of 2011.

The new contract also includes options for long-lead material for NSCs 5 and 6, and an option to build and deliver the fifth NSC.

The new ships are an enormous leap in capability for the USCG, having many new features to carry out a variety of maritime security missions. Among the improvements are an advanced communications and surveillance suite, and the ability to operate multiple rotary-wing aircraft and small boats. The 4,400-ton, 418-foot-long ships can reach 28 knots, have a range of 12,000 nautical miles, and can carry enough supplies to keep its 110-person crew at sea for two months.

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