Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp observed the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton exercise its state-of-the-art homeland security capabilities as the ship sailed in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Md., Oct. 31.
The visit allowed Dempsey to see first-hand the functionality of the eight planned National Security Cutters and how the Coast Guard’s new fleet of recapitalized cutters, aircraft and boats will provide unique security and defense capability to the American people.
“It’s an impressive ship, crewed by outstanding young men and women — members of our Joint Force — who volunteered to serve their country in time of conflict,” said Dempsey. “I came away impressed by the quality and capabilities of the Stratton and the men and women who operate her — a powerful combination for our nation.”
The two leaders saw Stratton’s crew recover a cutter boat on the ship’s stern ramp, which enables it to use boats in heavy seas for security boardings and rescues in weather that would have been impossible on previous ships. They also watched as a flight control officer directed the launch of an MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from the cutter’s large flight deck without the need for crew on the deck during the dangerous operation. And they observed the distinctive communication and data sharing features that allow National Security Cutters to work seamlessly with military, intelligence and homeland security partners. These features bring national command and control capabilities to offshore and coastal locations, wherever they are needed.
Stratton is the third National Security Cutter and the Coast Guard is honored to have First Lady Michelle Obama as the ship’s sponsor. It was delivered to the Coast Guard for service Sept. 2, following construction at Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., where Coast Guard cutter construction provides thousands of high quality manufacturing jobs. The Coast Guard is planning to commission Stratton at its home port in Alameda, Calif., in March 2012. Between now and then, the crew is training and obtaining needed certifications for full operational service.
“This exceptional ‘plank owner’ crew is doing the hard work necessary to prepare their new ship to perform our vital missions and serve the American people,” Papp said. In a tradition dating from the days of sail, the first crewmembers of a new ship have a special place in its history because of the hard work required to bring it into service, and are referred to as plank owners.
But Stratton is just one piece of the overall effort to ensure the Coast Guard is ready to serve American’s interests into the future. Recently, the Coast Guard released a new poster that gives an overall picture of the Coast Guard’s fleet, with those parts being recapitalized alongside those currently in service. The poster lends valuable perspective to the enormity of the effort.
“This poster provides an all encompassing snapshot of Coast Guard assets,” said Papp. “We often discuss recapitalization by its parts, but this presents the complete view of the important resources we use to perform maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship so vital to American prosperity and security.”
For more about Gen. Dempsey’s visit on Stratton, read the American Forces Press Service by Donna Miles .