Mast Stepping: Prospective commanding officer for Bertholf (WMSL 750), Capt. Patrick Stadt (USCGC), sealed a box with coins into the mast of the first-of-class National Security Cutter. The coins represent accomplishments of Coast Guard founder Commodore Ellsworth Price Bertholf, the U.S. Coast Guard and Northrop Grumman Ship Systems employees. Sealing the box in its place is welder Ronald "Eggman" Jones.
A bit of maritime tradition
came alive as Northrop Grumman Corporation observed a custom
known as “mast stepping” during the construction of the U.S. Coast
Guard National Security Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750), now progressing on
schedule at the company’s Ship Systems sector.
"Stepping the Mast" is an ancient custom of placing coins under
the step or bottom of a ship’s mast during construction that dates back
to Greek mythology. It was thought that if the ship wrecked at sea, the
coins would help the sailors pay the wages for their return home.
Northrop Grumman and Coast Guard officials permanently affixed
$7.50 in coins – to represent the hull number of Bertholf – under the
mast. Each coin commemorated a significant date in the life of this
ship and its namesake, Commodore Ellsworth Bertholf.
U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Patrick Stadt, prospective commanding
officer of Bertholf, also took part in the ceremony. "The placing of
the coins into the mast signifies that we are one step closer
bringing this great ship
to life and placing it in service," he said.
In addition to the mast stepping ceremony, Northrop Grumman
employees recently removed and re-installed a gas turbine engine that
powers Bertholf to demonstrate that those activities could be
accomplished within 48 hours.
In another milestone, the National Security Cutter team
recently completed installation of the weapon system aboard Bertholf.
The Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), Block 1B, is a
fast-reaction, rapid-fire 20mm gun system developed as a defense
against small surface targets, slow-moving air targets, and helicopters
at short range. CIWS has been a mainstay self-defense system aboard
nearly every class of ship since the late 1970s. The system uses a 20
mm Gatling-type rotary cannon linked to a self-contained radar system
with search, detection, threat evaluation, destruction, kill assessment
and cease fire functions. The gun fires at a variable 4,500 – 7,000
rounds per minute.
Bertholf is currently 86 percent complete. The next major
production milestone is scheduled for later this summer. Known as Main
Engine Light-Off, it will involve an initial operational test of the