PASCAGOULA, Miss., Nov. 11, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- The first new U.S. Coast Guard high endurance cutter to be built in more than 35 years was christened Bertholf (WMSL 750) here today before 1,000 enthusiastic guests at Northrop Grumman's (NYSE:NOC) shipyard. The Veterans Day christening ceremony of the Coast Guard's first National Security Cutter (NSC) honored Coast Guard veterans several of whom attended the ceremony.
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As she smashed the bottle of champagne across the new ship's bow, Mrs. Meryl Chertoff, ship's sponsor and wife of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, proclaimed, "Bless this ship and all who sail in her!"
U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), delivered remarks honoring the U.S. Coast Guard personnel and veterans at the ceremony.
"In the course of your career, you are going to have some tough times...see another Hurricane Katrina...and generals and admirals have convinced me that you are going to see a major attack on the heartland of America - and you are going to be called upon to respond," said Taylor. "So it is fitting that our nation is providing you with a great ship and great training, but at the end of the day it's going to take the great people that you are, to make those things work."
Taylor continued with praise for the resiliency of the Northrop Grumman shipbuilders.
"When these shipbuilders leave every day, they are tired and dirty and I can assure you, they have given the citizens of this nation and Northrop Grumman a full day's work for what they got paid that day," said Taylor. "We appreciate them...we're grateful for what they do and above all, I'm honored to represent them."
The name Bertholf honors the U.S. Coast Guard's first Commandant, Ellsworth Price Bertholf (1866-1921). On Jan. 28, 1915, when President Woodrow Wilson signed a law consolidating the Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life Saving Service, he accepted Bertholf's suggestion that 'Coast Guard' was the logical name for the combined agencies. As the first commandant, Bertholf was instrumental in implementing the successful merger of the two services.
"I want to thank everyone at our shipyard and most particularly the fitters and welders and the fine job that they've done leading up to the christening of this vessel," said Secretary Chertoff. "It is often said that everybody is able to accomplish what they do only because we stand on the shoulders of giants. That is of course very true with respect to the accomplishment of building and christening this cutter."
The cutter is a 418-foot ship with a 4,300-ton displacement at full load. Powered by a twin screw combined diesel and gas turbine power propulsion plant, the NSC is designed to travel at 28 knots maximum speed. The cutter includes an aft launch and recovery area for two rigid hull inflatable boats, a flight deck to accommodate a range of manned and unmanned rotary wing aircrafts, and state-of-the-art command and control electronics.
"Our Coast Guard is committed to saving lives and defending our country, and we're committed to building great ships for our Coast Guard," said Philip A. Teel, president of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems sector. "This ship has been the focus of many process changes over the course of its life as we strive to obtain the gold standard for ship construction. We set out to make this ship, before we knew her name, to be the best first of class ship ever built in a shipyard, and in spite of Katrina, she is meeting that standard.
"Bertholf is the first ship we began work on in the wake of Katrina," Teel continued. "Ask anyone with a hardhat and they will tell you that this ship led our recovery and return to excellence. Without exaggeration, many, if not most, of our shipbuilders who returned to work on this ship postponed the building of homes and in many cases the rebuilding of their lives to get this ship moving. The level of commitment and dedication shown by our shipbuilders is rare elsewhere."
The cutter was designed to satisfy the Coast Guard's multi-mission responsibilities in homeland security, national defense, marine safety and environmental protection. This class of cutters will play an important role in enhancing the Coast Guard's operational readiness, capacity and effectiveness at a time when the demand for its services has never been higher. In partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, the joint venture partners of Integrated Coast Guard Systems, have been working side-by-side to design a ship that is not only capable and flexible, but also an economical and enduring platform.
"When Mrs. Chertoff cracks the bottle of champagne on the hull of the Bertholf, she will be marking the first step to the recapitalization of the Coast Guard Fleet," said U.S. Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Thad W. Allen. "In September we laid the keel on a second National Security Cutter, the Waesche. I've said on many occasions that we are nothing without our people. But our people cannot remain effective without the proper tools. The right tool for the job is right behind us."
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With more than 120,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 29 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.
CONTACT: Bill Glenn Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (228) 327-1671 William.firstname.lastname@example.org