The U.S. Coast Guard’s second National Security Cutter (NSC), Waesche, recently completed four days of rigorous tests called Acceptance Trials to ensure the cutter meets all of its contractual requirements and is ready for delivery. Waesche’s Acceptance Trials were conducted in Pascagoula, Miss., from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, 2009, by the Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). INSURV inspected Waesche to identify any major deficiencies needing correction prior to delivery. Acceptance Trials are viewed as a “final exam” before the government takes ownership of the new cutter.
Coast Guard Director of Acquisition Programs and Program Executive Officer, Rear Admiral John Korn said, “Waesche performed with flying colors and is well on the way to acceptance and being placed In Commission Special in early November. It was particularly gratifying to actually ride aboard our newest cutter and see the tangible results of all the hard work, and applied learning invested in Waesche.”
More than 80 representatives of INSURV tested Waesche’s shipboard equipment, examined the quality of her construction, and evaluated the cutter’s compliance with the contractual specifications established by the Coast Guard. INSURV uses trial cards to record individual discrepancies or deficiencies requiring corrective action. Although the final INSURV report has not been released, preliminary indications are excellent and Waesche proudly flew two brooms from the yard arm on its way back to Pascagoula.
Over the next several weeks, the Coast Guard will work with industry to correct any discrepancies and develop plans to resolve any outstanding issues. Conditional acceptance and delivery of Waesche is expected in early November.
INSURV’s independent review is one of many elements of oversight the NSC project has in place to ensure new cutters meet the most stringent government standards. Prior to acceptance, a NSC must pass more than 400 tests, including over 60 conducted during sea trials.
Waesche had 1,466 open trial cards heading into Acceptance Trials, which is approximately half the number of trial cards open on Bertholf prior to Acceptance Trials. The Coast Guard has learned important lessons from its experience acquiring the Bertholf. Consequently, Waesche’s design, construction, fitting-out, and testing processes are ahead of the schedule established for Bertholf, with lower overall risk.
Waesche, like her sister ships in the 418-ft Legend-class, represents a great leap forward in capability for the Coast Guard’s surface forces. She has state-of-the-market hull, mechanical and electrical systems and an advanced suite of command, control, communication, and computer electronics to ensure the Coast Guard’s fleet is ready to meet 21st century mission needs. The Coast Guard plans to build eight NSCs, which will replace the 40-plus year old 378-ft High Endurance Cutter fleet.