This weekend Huntington Ingalls Industries' (NYSE:HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division christened the company's fifth U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter (NSC), James.
The 418'x52' Legend-class NSCs are the flagships of the Coast Guard's cutter fleet. Designed to replace the 378' Hamilton-class High-Endurance Cutters that entered service during the 1960s, they displace 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.
NSCs are capable of meeting all maritime security mission needs required of the High-Endurance Cutter. They include 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. The Legend class is the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutter in the Coast Guard, with robust capabilities for maritime homeland security, law enforcement, marine safety, environmental protection and national defense missions. NSCs play 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.
Ingalls has delivered three NSCs, and three more, including James, are currently under construction. A seventh NSC, Kimball, is scheduled to begin construction in early 2015. James is scheduled to deliver next summer.
Charlene James Benoit, great-great niece of the ship's namesake, Capt. Joshua James, is the ship sponsor. At the culmination of the ceremony, Benoit smashed a bottle across the bow of the ship, proclaiming, "May God bless this ship and all who sail in her."
Capt. James is one of the world's most celebrated lifesavers. His lifesaving began at age 15 when he joined the Massachusetts Humane Society. Over the years, until the age of 75, he was credited with saving more than 600 lives until his death at age 75. He was on duty with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, which later merged with the U.S. Coast Guard.
"The boundaries surrounding illegal migrant activity, weapons, drug smuggling and terrorism continue to blur and converge," said Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger, vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and the ceremony's principal speaker. "The challenges created by that convergence require a 21st century Joshua James. We need his spirit and his adherence to our values. We need his adaptability, his staying power and his multi-mission focus."