National Security Cutters

Evolving Mission Requirements

New Cutter Arrives in Alameda, California

The Coast Guard Cutter Waesche transits through the San Francisco Bay for the first time en route to its homeport of Alameda, California on February 28th. 2010. The Waeshe is the second Legend Class cutter and is scheduled to be commissioned in May. Rear Adm. Jody Breckenridge, Pacific Area commander, and Master Chief Marvin Wells, Pacific Area command master chief, are send acknowledging honors rendered by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, February 28th, 2010. The Waesche passed the Yerba Buena Lighthouse while transiting to its homeport of Alameda, California. The other photos show various views of the Waesche as well as the only other new Cutter the Bertholf.

Just as the multiple maritime and military roles of the U.S. Coast Guard have grown in scope and significance since the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, so too have the National Security Cutters’ capability requirements evolved to be responsive to today’s ever-more challenging operational missions and threats. Coast Guard officials say, the National Security Cutter (NSC) will be designed to achieve a 30-year life and built to deliver 21st Century capabilities to the Coast Guard in a way that will enhance the safety of its crew and allow the Coast Guard to execute its central missions more effectively, efficiently, and safely.

Any Mission, Anytime, Anywhere

At 418 feet, the lead ship in the new Legend-class of national security cutters is designed to be the flagship of the U.S. Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging maritime security missions, including supporting the mission requirements of the joint U.S. combatant commanders. The NSC is the largest and most technically advanced class of the Integrated Deepwater System (IDS) program’s three major classes of cutters and will replace the aging 378′ High Endurance Hamilton class cutters that have been in service since the 1960s. Two NSCs have been delivered, USCGC BERTHOLF and USCGC WASCHE ; USCGC STRATON is under construction, and the President’s Budget Request for 2011, contains funds for construction of NSC number 4 and purchase of long lead materials for number 5; program plans are for eight vessels.

Few human interests stories rival that of Captain Dorothy Stratton, USCGR(W). She organized and led the Coast Guard’s Women Reserve in WWII and later was the first Personnel Director of the International Monetary Fund. She was Director of the Girl Scouts of America for ten years and passed away in 2006 at the age of 107. Naming a vessel after her is “All together fitting and proper” to quote President Lincoln is his Gettysburg Address.

Capability

Compared to legacy cutters, the NSC’s design will provide better sea keeping and higher sustained transit speeds, greater endurance and range, and the ability for launch and recovery, in higher sea states of improved small boats, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles – all key attributes in enabling the Coast Guard to implement increased security responsibilities. Such duties include exerting more effective jurisdiction over foreign-flagged ships transiting U.S. waters. Deepwater’s more capable maritime security cutters, for example, will enable the Coast Guard to screen and target vessels faster, more safely and reliably before they arrive in U.S. waters – to include conducting onboard verification through boardings and, if necessary, taking enforcement-control actions. The NSC will serve as an integral part of the Coast Guard’s collaborative inter-agency effort to achieve maritime domain awareness and ensure the safety of the American public and sovereignty of U.S. maritime borders.

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***Posted March 15th, 2010

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