Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has cut the first 100t of steel for the construction of the US Coast Guard’s (USCG) newest Legend-class national security cutter (NSC).

The official start of the fabrication of Calhoun (WMSL 759), the tenth Legend-class cutter, took place at HII Ingalls Shipbuilding division’s facility in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Ingalls NSC programme manager Jay Boyd said: “Each new ship in this class has been an exciting opportunity to build on our legacy.

“This is the tenth cutter in the class and a steady production line has allowed our shipbuilders to continually improve on how we build and deliver these technologically advanced cutters to the nation.”

NSC 10 is named in honour of the USCG’s first Master Chief Petty Officer Charles Calhoun.

The NSC vessels are designed to meet maritime security mission needs. The cutters feature an aft launch-and-recovery area to accommodate two inflatable boats.

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In addition, each NSC has a flight deck for manned and unmanned rotary-wing aircraft.

The USCG’s Legend-class cutters are used for maritime homeland security, national defence, law enforcement, marine safety and environmental protection missions.

The HII Ingalls shipyard has so far delivered eight Legend-class NSCs to the coast guard.

The NSC project aims to replace the ageing Hamilton-class cutters that entered service in the 1960s.

At 418ft in length, the vessels can perform vertical replenishment at sea and refuelling at-sea operations.

The cutters are armed with 6.50 calibre machine guns and a 57mm MK 110 turret-mounted gun.

Two additional Legend-class vessels are under construction at the shipyard. Ingalls is under contract to construct one more cutter.

HII expects to deliver the ninth NSC, Stone (WMSL 758), to the USCG next year.