The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a $487.1 million contract to Huntington Ingalls Industries for the construction of the sixth National Security Cutter, according to a Tuesday release from the U.S. Coast Guard.
The NSC is a 4,500 long ton ship planned to replace the Hamilton-class cutters that entered the Coast Guard inventory in the late 1960s.
Unlike Navy ships, NSCs are designed to operate independently for long periods without resupply. Under a rotational crew plan the ships can be forward deployed for up to 230 days without returning to homeport.
The endurance of the new cutters will allow eight NSC to replace the original 12 Hamilton-class cutters. Four Hamilton-class cutters have been sold to foreign navies.
There have been calls for the Coast Guard to stop production of NSCs at six hulls, though the Coast Guard included funding for a seventh as part of its Fiscal Year 2014 budget request.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp has said several times eight NSCs is the ideal requirement for the service.
The new ship will be built at HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.