Building the national security cutter: 100 tons of steel

Fabrication for Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton

Project team members Lt. Dave Osborne, Jim French and Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.’s Len Janowski mark the start of fabrication for National Security Cutter 4 which will be commissioned as Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton. Photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.

You see them everyday on America’s waterways. They have been spotted responding to humanitarian disasters across the world. And, they support the Department of Defense in times of conflict. We are, of course, talking about the Coast Guard cutter fleet. But, where do these cutters come from?

Over the next three years, we’ll take you inside the builder’s facility as nearly 100 tons of steel plate is transformed into a ship and ultimately commissioned as Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton. Hamilton will be the fourth of eight planned national security cutters, the most capable ships in the Coast Guard cutter fleet.

Yesterday marked the beginning of the production phase for Hamilton. That 100 tons of steel plate was cut and fabricated into what is to be a 418-foot vessel with the command and control capabilities to provide government leadership with the timely information necessary for decision making in a crisis – including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks on the United States.

In times of peace, the national security cutter takes advantage of superior range and endurance with 90-plus-day patrol cycles, the ability to deploy two ship-helicopters and two boats on missions ranging from enforcing America’s Exclusive Economic Zone to humanitarian response and search and rescue.

The next milestone for Hamilton will be its keel laying scheduled for August 2012.

Hamilton will join Coast Guard Cutters Bertholf, Waesche and Stratton as members of the Legend Class, named for extraordinary members in the Service’s 221-year history. The cutter will be named in honor of the founder of the Revenue Cutter Service and the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury.

Coast Guard Cutters Bertholf and Waesche steaming together off the coast of southern California. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

The Coast Guard’s first two national security cutters, Bertholf and Waesche, steaming together off the coast of southern California. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

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