Progress on the National Security Cutters

In October, I questioned why there seemed so be so little progress on the National Security Cutters.

In fact there has been a significant milestone. Monday the contract for the fourth National Security Cutter was awarded and the contract includes an option on the fifth ship. The Acquisition Directorate said , “The contract is a fixed price incentive type. It is the first National Security Cutter production contract to be awarded directly to the shipbuilder, outside of the Integrated Coast Guard Systems commercial lead-system integrator contract framework.  The Coast Guard is the Systems Integrator for its recapitalization programs and is responsible for their management and execution.”

Rhode Islander hears from a relative, “Some long lead time equipments for NSC-4  (HAMILTON) have already been delivered to NORTHROP GRUMMAN SHIPYARD  (NGSB),  including the 2 main engines  (MTU), all 3 caterpillar generators, all the reduction gears, the air conditioners, and pieces of the weapons systems.   Therefore, you can conclude that NGSB should be ready to begin cutting steel on NSC-4 within a couple of months at the latest.   Meanwhile,  NSC-3 is proceeding well with key milestones such as generator light off and main engine light off occurring before Spring 2011, and Sea Trials still scheduled for latter next summer.   Final delivery of STRATTON (WMSL-752) to the active duty Coast Guard crew should happen in less than a year.”

Hopefully, we won’t have to wait four years for HAMILTON (WMSL 753) to be delivered and given that the option has already been negotiated that number 5, JAMES (WMSL 754) will follow close behind.

38 thoughts on “Progress on the National Security Cutters

      • That makes sense.
        A couple questions.

        Is there an advantage to diesel only in this environment?

        Will the OPC’s have the communications and command and control equipment to serve as a flagship?

      • The all diesel plant and other simpler systems on the OPC will make them easier to maintain with relatively austere support facilities.

        By all accounts the OPCs appear at least as capable as the WHEC in terms of Intelligence, Recon, and Communications. They may have some disadvantages relative to the NSC, but some NSC will no doubt still be required on ALPAT anyway even if we do base OPCs in Alaska.

        The analysis in the article you sighted was incomplete in that while ships base in the lower 48 loose ship days getting to Alaska, ships in Alaska also loose ship days transiting to training and maintenance facilities in the lower 48. It can be close to a wash.

      • Ships based in an area where they can also do training and drydock maintenance have big advantages in terms of reduced days away from homeport overhead. A ship in Hawaii or San Diego can remain in homeport for drydocking or for what we used to REFTRA (don’t know the current term).

    • Thanks for posting that. It was obviously an infomercial, but it is well done. Impressive ship.

      The 50 cal marksman (on the Dolphin) was a good interview.

  1. If push back funding for the OPC again this year like they did this year then I’m going to start to wonder if they are going to try to squeeze in a ninth NSC before closing the line.

      • But the latest submittal only shows 1 or 2 hundred million for the OPC in FY 2017, in fact the entire 2017 shipbuilding projection is only 450 million now.

        Maybe there is a big aviation expense that year? Just looking at how they’ve rolled the projections it seems like they are clearing space for something, which is why I wondered about a ninth NSC.

        The 2017 budget will be done during a presidential election year, sometimes that means extra goodies.

  2. 500 million seems like an awful lot for just the hull of a National Security Cutter. The Burkes are around 650 million. It seems like the shipbuilding contract for the Legends should have been 400-450 by the eighth ship.

    HII never got the prices to come down on the NSC’s.

    500 million is too much, the Cutter shortage isn’t just a budget issue, it’s a procurement issue. The USCG has to reduce the costs of their hulls if they want to meet their numbers requirements.

    • I think the total cost will be closer to $650M. The Coast Guard never saw the price come down with learning curve. Partly it is because the procurement was so stretched out. Bertholf was ordered Jan. 2001, and Midgett will presumably not be delivered until 2019 or 2020. We have ordered the ships at the rate of approximately one every two years.

      And we have never used Block Buy or Multi-Year Procurement, which we certainly should be doing with the Webber Class WPCs.

      Still the NSC is 50% larger than the Littoral Combat Ship. I don’t know about the hull cost for the Burkes, but current total cost is about $2B.

      Hopefully the OPC program will see some savings as a result of serial production.


    This was the last Burke contract for HII, BIW’s was slightly more. The last Lockheed LCS contract was for 360 million each. The 500 million for the last NSC seems high compared to the Burke and LCS hulls to me. It appears that the multiyear authority is badly needed for the USCG.

    I know the ships actually cost a lot more than that, because you have to pay for all the stuff that goes on them. And the more you put on them, the more they cost. For the USN I think the inflation of systems cost is actually a bigger problem than the inflation of shipbuilding costs. Even if you cut the shipbuilding costs of a Burke by 20%, it would only drop the total cost of the vessel by about 125 million or about 8%. For the USCG the actual hull costs are a lot bigger percentage of the procurement.

    • Know that price was fixed and for construction, to which will be added change orders which are inevitable and WILL come as mission modules are revised. In addition there are prior R&D and post outfitting and testing/trials costs. So the “per hull” end price WILL be much higher. I am thinking that will be very close to the congressional cap pf $460 mil IF that doesn’t go away?
      I am not sure what will happen to the Block Two buy? I think that may become the SSC rqmts aka Flight One maybe. And of course the door is left open for the “FF Something” being dovetailed into this~ The bureaucracy just hates to do all the paperwork the process requires for NEW programs which costs millions of $$$ to boot.

  4. 5th NSC completed builder’s trials.

    “The sixth NSC, Cutter Munro, is currently in production at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula. The production contract for the seventh NSC, Kimball, was awarded to Huntington Ingalls Industries on March 31, 2014 and the contract for eighth NSC was awarded to HII in late March 2015.”

    Sounds like it will be a while before 14th District sees all three of its NSCs. But at least they have been ordered. NSC #8 will be Midgett.

  5. There is a piece here recommending procurement of a ninth Bertholf class cutter.
    Since we have no additional NSC or OPC construction in FY2016 or 2017, and the Fleet Mix study indicated that the Coast Guard really nine NSCs, I found this hard to understand.

    “The [program of record] provides the capabilities needed to execute our missions. While these assets have proven to be highly effective and capable, the Coast Guard has not identified a need for additional NSCs at this time,” said a Coast Guard spokesman Chief Warrant Officer Chad Saylor”


    • I would go so far as to build a couple upgunned cutters for coast guard, and permanently station them, along with a DOG unit with the navy overseas. It would do 4 things, or maybe more.
      1) give coast guard experience in a armed maritime security environment
      2) Allow us to do exchanges and training with other small navies and coast guards. Taiwan would be a good example. If the Navy trained them China would throw a fit.
      3) Allows us to continually train the US navies VBSS so they can take all the credit for the mission.
      4) Show the world the difference between an upgunned cutter and a LCS. maybe get some foreign sales out of it, and future investment in the Cutter program.

  6. Marine Log reports the sixth ship has been launched. “Munro….is expected to be delivered by the end of next year…..Ingalls has delivered the first five NSCs and has three more under construction, including Munro. The seventh ship, Kimball (WMSL 756), is scheduled for delivery in 2018. The eighth NSC, Midgett, will start fabrication in November.”

  7. German Navy blog Marine Forum reports, “USA (14 Nov) Ingalls Shipbuilding has scheduled the christening ceremony for the 6th LEGEND class National Security Cutter, MUNRO (WMSL 755), on 14 Nov.

  8. CG-9 reports award of a contract for long lead time material for NSC#9 and reports, “Five of the nine planned NSCs have been delivered to the Coast Guard: Coast Guard cutters Bertholf, Waesche and Stratton in Alameda, California, and Coast Guard cutters Hamilton and James to Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth NSC, Munro, is scheduled for delivery in December and commissioning in spring 2017. The launch of the seventh, Kimball, and the keel authentication for the eighth, Midgett, are scheduled to occur later this year.”

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