Coast Guard's First National Security Cutter Nears Acceptance

The 418-foot cutter Bertholf, the flagship of the U.S. Coast Guard's modernized fleet and first of eight national security cutters planned under the Deepwater modernization program, may receive conditional acceptance by April 30 and be given to its crew for about two years of training before it enters regular service. The Bertholf completed five days of acceptance trials in Pascagoula, Miss., on April 11, which followed preliminary tests and evaluations. The U.S. Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) said the ship "was found to be a unique and very capable platform with great potential for future service. . . . Board recommends the USCG Commandant authorize acceptance, provided all (8) starred deficiencies are corrected or waived."

The Coast Guard announced April 18 that for the next several weeks, government representatives will work with industry to correct discrepancies and develop plans for resolving outstanding issues. The next major step will be signing of a conditional acceptance form that documents inspection, delivery by the contractor, and receipt by the government. The Coast Guard said conditional acceptance could occur as early as April 30.

Once accepted, the cutter will be turned over to the Coast Guard permanent crew and enter "In Commission, Special" status prior to formal commissioning into service scheduled for August. "In Commission Special" status means the ship's crew is training and testing equipment prior to beginning normal operations, which can take 22-24 months.

Bertholf was christened in 2006. It is named after Commodore Ellsworth P. Bertholf, the first commandant of the modern-day Coast Guard.

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