The U.S. Coast Guard awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries a contract action valued at approximately $482 million for the production of the fifth National Security Cutter.Construction of the ship to be named James, is scheduled to begin this spring at the Huntington Ingalls Industries’ shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. following prefabrication.“The contract award for production and delivery of the fifth NSC is an important step forward in the Coast Guard’s efforts to recapitalize its aging surface fleet,” said Rear Adm. Bruce Baffer, the Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate’s program executive officer. “The NSC is desperately needed to replace the service’s 40-year-old high endurance cutters and to be able to perform today’s challenging homeland security missions.” Captain Joshua James, the namesake of the cutter, served in the U.S. Life Saving Service for nearly sixty years. The U.S. Life Saving Service is a predecessor service of the U.S. Coast Guard. Patrolling the shores of Hull, Mass., James participated in his first rescue at age 15 and received his first of many lifesaving medals at the age of 23. In 1876 James became the keeper of four lifesaving stations in Hull, including Point Allerton. During his career, James was credited with saving more than 600 people and has been touted as the world's most celebrated lifesaver."The National Security Cutter is necessary to operate in demanding marine environments and perform today's vital Coast Guard missions,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Bob Papp. “The James will be a state-of-the-art vessel which will enable the Coast Guard to provide persistent presence for safety, security and stewardship of the nation on the sea and in our waters. The signing of this contract exemplifies our service’s 221-year commitment to maintaining a capable cutter fleet to provide military capability, law enforcement authority and life-saving expertise."
The Legend class National Security Cutter is 418 feet long with an operational range of 12,000 nautical miles, a top speed of 28 knots and a 60-day endurance. These cutters routinely conduct operations from South America to the Bering Sea where their unmatched combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, counter-narcotics and homeland security operations at great distances from shore keeping threats far from the U.S. mainland. Recent improvements in the Coast Guard’s acquisition program have provided increased stability over major acquisition programs such as the National Security Cutters. Stable vessel requirements have allowed the service to control costs and establish realistic project schedules. As a result of learning gained by the shipyard and the Coast Guard during the construction of the first four NSCs, the program is achieving efficiencies in cost and schedule. Two National Security Cutters, the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf and the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, have been commissioned and the third, Stratton, was delivered Sept. 2. The U.S. Coast Guard plans to acquire a total of eight National Security Cutters.