PASCAGOULA, Miss., Jan. 26, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Shipbuilders erected the final grand block unit on the U.S. Coast Guard's first Deepwater National Security Cutter here yesterday, signifying a crucial construction milestone in the shipyard and shipbuilding program's recovery effort following a series of storm events. The highly skilled craft workers constructing Bertholf (WMSL 750), being built at Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Pascagoula facility, utilized innovative production techniques to keep the ship on track despite the challenges posed by Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricanes Dennis and Katrina.
"We've battled a few storms, but the diligent work ethic, attention to detail and production efficiencies implemented by our shipbuilding team, have enabled us to maintain great momentum," said Jamie Anton, Northrop Grumman's vice president and general manager of U.S. Coast Guard Programs. "We examined every lesson learned from the entire spectrum of production programs here at Ship Systems. We then implemented metrics and review gates to ensure that we leveraged what we learned. No stone was left unturned. It involved the tools we use, the process improvements implemented and even the way we purchase, track and receive materials. Collectively, these new methods enable a streamlined production process that will benefit every Deepwater ship we build."
Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems sector is building the ship at their Pascagoula facility, under contract from Integrated Coast Guard Systems LLP, a joint venture of Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.
The shipbuilding team has established a number of industry firsts in the quality of the build. Innovative techniques, such as designing new jigs and fixtures to improve flatness and fit, kept the ship erection sequence on schedule. The team identified particular metrics to improve production cycles, saving both time and cost. Three dimensional modeling aids were created to provide better planning and construction sequencing, which helps avoid rework. A forward-looking material approach provided more rapid support, allowing the construction team to build with no gaps in production. And the team established a high standard of excellence by utilizing shipbuilders who average over 10 years of service -- immediately improving first-time quality shipbuilding unit delivery. This construction quality is equivalent to what normally would be accomplished on the fifth ship in a class of ships.
"Completing this milestone so quickly in the wake of the most significant natural disaster in our nation's history is a direct reflection on the dedication and professionalism of the Northrop Grumman workforce and management," said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. William S. Krewsky, supervisor, Program Manager's Representative's Office.
Unit 1120, which completes the ship's bow section, encloses the anchor windlass machinery room and covers the chain lockers area on the ship. The ship is made up of eight grand blocks and this section was the 44th unit erected.
The National Security Cutter will be 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 max speed. The cutter will include an aft launch and recovery area for two rigid-hull inflatable boats; a flight deck to accommodate a range of rotary-wing manned and unmanned aircraft and state-of-the-art command-and-control electronics.
Deepwater is a critical multi-year, multi-billion dollar program to modernize and replace the Coast Guard's aging ships and aircraft, and improve command and control and logistics systems. It is the largest recapitalization effort in the history of the Coast Guard.
Northrop Grumman Ship Systems includes primary operations in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss.; and in New Orleans and Tallulah, La., as well as in a network of fleet support offices in the U.S. and Japan. Ship Systems is one of the nation's leading full-service systems companies for the design, engineering, construction and life-cycle support of major surface ships for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and international navies.