The US Coast Guard (USCG) has expanded its fleet with the addition of the new Legend-class National Security Cutter, the Calhoun (WMSL 759). The cutter departed from HII’s shipbuilding division on 19 November and is part of a class that will replace the ageing Hamilton-class cutters that entered service in the 1960s, and contribute to USCG efforts to maintain maritime homeland security, national defence, law enforcement, marine safety and environmental protection missions.

The Calhoun, scheduled for commissioning in 2024, will make its home port in Charleston, South Carolina. It will join the ranks of other cutters in the area, including the Hamilton, James and Stone

HII cut steel on Calhoun, the tenth Legend-class cutter, in February 2019. In 2002, the USCG signed a contract with Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS) for $17bn to deliver 91 new cutters, along with 35 fixed wing aircraft, 34 helicopters, 76 UAVs, 93 upgraded helicopters and 49 upgraded cutters over a 20-year schedule, later extending the programme to 25 years following post-9/11 mission requirements, pushing the value of the contract up to $25bn. 

Of the 91 cutters, eight were to be National Security Cutters, while the remainder were to be for Ocean Patrol (25 cutters) and Fast Response (58 cutters).

The National Security Cutter is the largest combat ship in the USGC fleet, accommodating 120 crew, with an overall length of 127.4m, and displacing 4,500 tonnes. The vessel is equipped with a forward-fitted MK110 57mm gun that can fire 220 rounds per minute, with a range of approximately nine miles, while air defence is supplied by a 20mm close-in weapon system.

Amanda Whitaker, Ingalls Shipbuilding NSC Program Manager, expressed pride in the shipbuilding team’s accomplishment, highlighting the anticipation of the cutter’s long service in national security. “Watching Calhoun sail away is a proud moment for us all,” Whitaker stated, underscoring the dedication and skill of the team involved in the project.

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HII’s shipyard is currently constructing the final ship in this class, the Friedman (WMSL 760).