Tuesday, November 14, 2006

USCGC Bertholf Launched

The first large Coast Guard cutter built in more than 35 years was launched on Veterans Day. Bertholf is the first of a class of at least 8 high endurance cutters that will ultimately replace the 378 ft Hamilton Class. She is named for the first Head of the Coast Guard, Commodore Ellsworth Bertholf who amongst his many accomplishments led the legendary Point Barrow relief expedition.

The USCGC Bertholf, the first of what is called the "Legend Class", is 418 feet long, carries a large helicopter hanger, onboard labs, a vastly improved small boat handling system (stern launch) and is big and seaworthy enough to keep to the sea in the worst weather. With a 57mm gun, point defense system and what is cryptically described as a "mission module" she is well equipped for anti-piracy duties and the other overseas functions of the Coast Guard (enforcing treaties protecting certain pacific republics ect.) as well as operating as a naval auxiliary in a major war. She should be a huge improvement on previous cutters. The class is badly needed as the other large cutters are getting quite old. Completely aside from fatigue issues in such old and hard driven ships, there simply aren't spare parts being made for a lot of their equipment any more (including their engines).
The ships launch was delayed due to the hull and shipyard being thrashed by Hurricane Katrina.


Susan said...

Thanks for posting this update. I hadn't read about it or heard it on CNN. Surprise, surprise.

Steven Den Beste said...

It's certainly a beautiful ship. Why'd they reduce the gun size? The Hamiltons carry a 76 mm gun; why go down to a 57?

Ken said...

The 57mm gun fires twice as fast and is a better AA weapon. It also has a longer range and is cheaper, easier to maintain and as it has been adopted by the Navy has a lot of spare parts available.

Anonymous said...

I, frankly, doubt that a 57mm gun is worth anything as an AA weapon. Commonality with the Navy though is well worth it.

BTW, if anyone thinks about a shipboard AA weapon, Navy has a curious thingie... It's a bank of Stingers on a turret. They just started fielding them recently. The idea is amazing in its simplicity, effectiveness, cost efficiency. It has some issues with deck placement because of the back blast, but it's nothing insurmountable.