WASHINGTON — The U.S Coast Guard christened its fourth National Security Cutter Saturday, during a ceremony at Ingalls Shipyards in Pascagoula, Miss.
The cutter's sponsor, Linda Kapral Papp, led the time-honored tradition of breaking a champagne bottle on the cutter's bow, officially giving the cutter the name Hamilton. She was accompanied by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp, who was the keynote speaker for the event.
"A ship's sponsor is considered a permanent part of the ship's crew and an advocate for its continued service and well-being," said Linda Kapral Papp. "I take this advocacy role, both for the crew and their family, very seriously."
The Hamilton was named after Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury and the driving force behind the establishment of the Revenue Cutter Service, a precursor to the modern U.S. Coast Guard. With the christening, the Hamilton becomes the sixth U.S. Coast Guard cutter that bears the name Hamilton. The first was the 75-foot U.S. Revenue Cutter Hamilton, commissioned in 1830.
"I'm very proud to be joined today by Linda, my wife and the ship's sponsor, as we both christened cutter Hamilton," said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp. "The christening ceremony marks an important milestone in the creation of a national asset that is designed and uniquely equipped to provide a persistent water-borne presence, ensuring maritime security far from our shores."
The Hamilton was launched Aug. 10, 2013, and is scheduled for delivery to the Coast Guard in September 2014. The Hamilton will be homeported in Charleston, S.C. Following the christening, production work on the Hamilton will continue until 2014.
"Today was an exciting day because we are one step closer to bringing cutter Hamilton to her new home in Charleston," said Capt. Doug Fears, the Hamilton's prospective commanding officer. "This exceptionally capable ship is the first major cutter to enter the Coast Guard's Atlantic fleet in more than 25 years, and it will serve our national security interests for decades, along with providing economic opportunities through ship maintenance and technical support to the greater Charleston area. Hamilton's crew is eager to test the ship's capabilities and equally thrilled to become part of the Charleston community."
Currently, three NSCs, including the Hamilton, are in production at Ingalls Shipyards. The fifth NSC, the James, is scheduled for delivery in 2015. The sixth NSC, the Munro, is scheduled for delivery in 2016. A contract option for long lead time materials for NSC 7, the Kimball, was exercised June 14, 2013. Long lead time materials includes main propulsion and navigation systems, generators, electrical switchboards, major castings and other items needed for production.
The NSC is the most technologically sophisticated cutter in the Coast Guard fleet, capable of performing critical homeland security, law enforcement and national defense missions in the most demanding open ocean environments. The cutter is 418 feet long, has a top speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles and endurance to perform 60- to 90-day patrols.
Three NSCs have been delivered to the Coast Guard and commissioned into service. These cutters, Bertholf, Waesche and Stratton, are currently performing operations in support of Coast Guard missions.
The Hamilton's prospective commanding officer, Capt. Doug Fears, and a small precommissioning crew are currently stationed in Charleston and are making preparations for the cutter's arrival in 2014.