The U.S. Coast Guard announced Monday that its third National Security Cutter, Stratton, successfully completed several days of rigorous acceptance trials Friday to ensure the cutter meets its contractual requirements and is ready for delivery to the Coast Guard.
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.
Acceptance trials resulted in two starred cards for Stratton, compared to three starred cards for the second National Security Cutter, the Waesche, and eight starred cards for the first National Security Cutter, the Bertholf. Starred cards are discrepancies that must be corrected before delivery or waived by the government. The Board of Inspection and Survey indicated the Coast Guard’s systems are maturing.
Acceptance trials are the final significant milestone, or final exam, before the government takes ownership of a new cutter. Representatives from the Board of Inspection and Survey 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.
“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.”
The Board of Inspection and Survey will soon make a formal recommendation regarding the cutter’s acceptance to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard will work with the shipbuilder, Huntington Ingalls Industries, during the next few weeks to adjudicate identified discrepancies prior to Stratton’s acceptance. Stratton is expected to be delivered to the Coast Guard in early September.
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 National Security Cutter must pass more than 400 tests, including approximately 60 conducted during sea trials.
The Stratton is named for Capt. Dorothy Stratton, who in 1942 became the first director of the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, known as the SPARs. The Stratton is the first Coast Guard cutter sponsored by a first lady and was christened by Michelle Obama July 23, 2010.
The 418-foot National Security Cutter is the flagship of the Coast Guard’s recapitalized fleet and is the most technologically capable cutter in the service’s history. The National Security Cutter 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 National Security Cutters, Bertholf and Waesche, are currently executing Coast Guard missions. The production contract for the fourth National Security Cutter 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 National Security Cutters.