Huntington Ingalls Industries' (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division launched the company's fourth U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter (NSC), Hamilton (WMSL 753), on Saturday.
"Launching a ship involves quite a bit of logistics, and our team pulled this off in a very safe and efficient manner," said Ingalls' NSC Program Manager Jim French. "It's a weeklong process to first translate the ship across land into our floating drydock and then going through an extensive ship-wide check-out process to launch. The team's performance was outstanding, and now we can focus on completing the ship and getting her to the Coast Guard next year."
NSCs are the flagship of the Coast Guard's cutter fleet, designed to replace the 378-foot Hamilton-class High-Endurance Cutters, which entered service during the 1960s. Ingalls has delivered three.
"The NSC is a proven hull, and our Coast Guard customer is pleased with the performance of the first three ships currently operating in the fleet," French said. "We continue to improve across the board in the construction of these cutters and this trend should continue."
Hamilton will be christened on Oct. 26 in Pascagoula by ship sponsor Linda Kapral Papp, wife of Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., commandant, U.S. Coast Guard.
Keel laying for Ingalls' fifth NSC, James (WMSL 754), took place on May 17. The ship is currently 32 percent complete and will launch the spring of 2014. Ingalls has started construction on nine units for NSC 6. An advance long lead material procurement contract has also been awarded for a seventh NSC.
NSCs are 418 feet long, with a 54-foot beam, displacing 4,500 tons with a full load. They have a top speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles, an endurance of 60 days and a crew of 110.
The Legend-class NSC is capable of meeting all maritime security mission needs required of the High Endurance Cutter. The cutter includes an aft launch and recovery area for two rigid hull inflatable boats and a flight deck to accommodate a range of manned and unmanned rotary wing aircraft. It is the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutter in the U.S. Coast Guard, with robust capabilities for maritime homeland security, law enforcement, marine safety, environmental protection and national defense missions. This class of cutters plays an important role enhancing the Coast Guard's operational readiness, capacity and effectiveness at a time when the demand for their services has never been greater.