New Coast Guard cutter to be built in Pascagoula

Dignitaries walk back to the dock after christening the USS Somerset at the Huntington Ingalls Industries Shipyard in Avondale, La., in July 2012. The Coast Guard announced Friday that it will contract with Huntington Ingalls to build a new cutter at its Pascagoula shipyard.

Gerald Herbert

The Coast Guard is exercising a $76.8 million contract option for another cutter to be built by Huntington Ingalls in Pascagoula.

The $76.8 million will allow Huntington Ingalls to purchase material and components to support construction of the new cutter at its shipyard in Pascagoula, according to a news release from U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker and Rep. Steven Palazzo, all R-Miss.

The Coast Guard has exercised an option to an existing contract with Huntington Ingalls Industries to procure long lead time materials for the production of NSC 7.

“This award will put the Pascagoula shipyard in a good position to complete the seventh National Security Cutter when full funding is approved,” Cochran said.

Wicker said during a recent hearing, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp expressed his commitment to fund all eight National Security Cutters. Wicker said the Coast Guard is keeping its word to Mississippi’s shipbuilding workers in Pascagoula by obligating funds for cutter.

Palazzo said the contract will allow Ingalls Shipyard to avoid a break in production and significant added costs.

Long lead time materials allow shipbuilders to maintain the efficiencies associated with a one-ship-per-year rate of construction.

On May 1, Huntington Ingalls was awarded a $487.1 million “fixed-price incentive firm target contract” to provide the Coast Guard with a sixth cutter.

Ingalls already has produced the first three NSCs for the Coast Guard and another two are under production in Pascagoula. NSC 4 is about 39 percent complete and NSC 5 is about 16 percent complete. The FY2014 budget request recommends $616 million to fully fund NSC 7.

The Legend-class ships are the Coast Guard’s newest class of technologically advanced cutters. They are replacing Hamilton-class cutters built in the 1960s.

The new cutters can be used for a multitude of tasks, including drug interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection and national defense missions.