2008 The US Coast Guard launches the USCGC Bertholf, it’s first National Security Cutter. The cutter — 418 feet from stem to stern — is set to patrol the Pacific from California to Ecuador — a patch of ocean as large as the United States. The first of eight similar cutters to be rolled out over the next several years, its acquisition is part of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater program, a plan to modernize an aging fleet and keep up with its expanded Homeland Security role. The Legend Class National Security Cutter (NSC) was designed to be the flagship of the fleet – capable of meeting all maritime security mission needs, and supportive of the joint Coast Guard/Navy commitment to Joint Service Combatant Commanders. The NSC contributes to Intelligence Collection/Information Sharing through a sophisticated Command anad Control system, sensors and increased data exchange bandwidth. The NSC’s Deepwater and DoD interoperability capabilities are enhanced with DHS- and local responder interoperable radio communications. The NSC flight deck will grow to accommodate all variants of DHS and DoD HH-60 helicopters to provide enhanced interoperability with interagency and inter-service counter-terrorism teams. The NSC will now be fully integrated with the National Distress Response Modernization Program, known as RESCUE 21, which will provide port commanders with real-time tracking of the NSC and seamless Common Operational Picture data sharing. The NSC Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection suite will include underwater sonar that will allow the cutter to scan ports, approaches, facilities and high-value assets for underwater, minelike devices and detect swimmers. The cutter’s small arms mounts will be remote operated and fully integrated with the cutter’s radar and infrared sensors such that the cutter and high-value assets under its protection can be protected from a USS COLE-like incident. The Maritime Security Capabilities allow the cutter’s weapons and command and control suite to be upgraded and hardened to better survive potential terrorist incidents and process increased data flow. This will include a missile defense system with CIWS, SLQ-32, and a medium caliber deck gun (57MM) that will provide the ability to stop rogue merchant vessels far from shore. An integrated CBRNE Detection and Defense capability allows the NSC to remain on scene and operate in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) scenarios.

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