National Security Cutter

National Security Cutter
USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750), the first National Security Cutter

The United States Coast Guard National Security Cutter (NSC), also known as the Legend class and Maritime Security Cutter, Large, is one design among several new cutter designs developed as part of the Integrated Deepwater System Program.[1]

The cutter has a rear-launching ramp, capable of launching and retrieving the two aft stored boats (Long Range Interceptor (LRI) or Short Range Prosecutor (SRP)), while underway.[2][3]


Design Parameters

The Legend Class Cutters are the second largest of all Coast Guard Cutters behind the Healy class and is replacing the Hamilton Class Cutters.[4] These cutters are envisioned by the Coast Guard as being able to undertake the entire range of the High Endurance Cutter's role with additional upgrades to make it more of an asset to the Department of Defense during declared national emergency contingencies.[5] These vessels can be used for intercepting suspect vessels, or for rescuing swimmers, fishery protection, maritime homeland security missions, counter terrorism, coastal patrol missions. To facilitate intercept missions, the Legend Class Cutter is able to launch and retrieve both the Short Range Prosecutor and the larger Long Range Interceptor. Both RIBs are propelled by pump-jets.


The first NSC, Bertholf entered sea trials in February 2008.[6] It has been in service since August 2008, and is homeported at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, California. A second NSC, Waesche, is also homeported in Alameda in 2010.[7] Construction of the Stratton - which now carries a crew of 123 - began in 2008 at Northrop Grumman's Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. The vessel was christened by first lady Michelle Obama on July 23, 2010, and released to the custody of the Coast Guard on Sept 2, 2011.[8] Five more units are projected.[9]

Program Issues

On 7 July 2009, the Government Accountability Office reported that delays in the NSC program are likely to result in "the loss of thousands of cutter operational days for conducting missions through 2017."[10] The GAO also that month reported that problems in the NSC program have delayed the OPC program by five years.[11] The program was also plagued by structural issues, the Coast Guard historically uses its cutters extensively, typically 230 days at sea a year, furthering the problem this will often be in North Pacific and North Atlantic waters that are some of the roughest seas in the Northern Hemisphere. As such, the stresses on the Cutters are expected to be very severe. Structural Analysis showed that some parts of the cutter could be expected to survive only 3 years. This has been addressed in cutter 752 on, with the first 2 cutters receiving reinforcements later.[12]

LCS Proposal

Northrop Grumman has offered its National Security Cutter design as a new frigate for the United States Navy at a cost of less than $400 million as a complement to the Littoral combat ship (LCS), with the possibility of later adding in the LCS weapons and mission module capabilities. The design would have a lower top speed than the LCS but much longer endurance.[13] However the NSC is not built to the same level of survivability as Navy ships and so would face higher risks if pressed into combat duties.[14] They are also offering a Patrol Frigate for international sales with Aegis and harpoons.[15]

Combat Suite

The Legend Class Cutters have increased data link bandwidth. The EADS TRS-3D radar system provides three dimensional air and surface search functions and is used in the LCS program as well as the German Corvette K130 program.[16] The cutters are also equipped with the AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare (EW) system used in the DDG-51.[17] The Legend Class are equipped with the same Bofors 57 mm gun with a 220 rpm ability used by the LCS program.[18] The Missile Defense duties are handled by the MK 36 SRBOC decoy systems also used on the FFG-7 and CG-47 programs and the CIWS.[19] The sonar is reported as having mine and underwater swimmer location ability.[20]

Active Cutters

The United States Coast Guard is building eight National Security Cutters:[21]

USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750)
USCGC Waesche (WMSL-751)
USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752)[22]
edit] Armament
USCG Bertholf during weapons testing
  • Bofors 57MM gun and Automatic Gunfire Control System
  • .50 Cal Manual Guns
  • Phalanx CIWS, SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System,
  • Mark 36 SRBOC/NULKA countermeasures chaff/rapid decoy launcher
  • Specific Emitter Identification (SEI) Sensor System
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological Detection and Defense (CBRD&D)
  • Deployable Long Range Interceptor
  • Deployable Short Range Prosecutor
  • Deployable HH-60/HH-65 helos
  • Deployable VUAVs

See also


  1. ^ "National Security Cutter (NSC)". Integrated Deepwater System Program. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  2. ^ "Short Range Prosecutor (SRP)". Integrated Deepwater System Program. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  3. ^ "H770 DJ Short Range Prosecutor (technical specifications)". Zodiac Group. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Bertholf Sea Trials on Flickr" Coast Guard News on Flickr
  7. ^ "USCG: Acquisition Directorate (CG-9)"
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Coast Guard: Observations on the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget and Related Performance and Management Challenges" July 7, 2009 GAO
  11. ^ "Options for Combining the Navy's and the Coast Guard's Small Combatant Programs"
  12. ^
  13. ^ CRS RL33741 - "Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress"
  14. ^ CBO: Options for Combining the Navy's and the Coast Guard's Small Combatant Programs, page 11
  15. ^ Ewing, Philip. "The phantom frigate." DoD Buzz, 13 April 2011.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "OIG-07-23–Acquisition of the National Security Cutter" p.14, Department of Homeland Security, January 23, 2007- Retrieved 2010-03-14
  22. ^ a b Susan Gvozdas "Coast Guard lays keel for NSC Stratton" July 21, 2009 Navy Times
  23. ^

External links

Media related to Legend class cutters at Wikimedia Commons

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