Northrop Grumman officials are
disputing a recent report that outlines possible design flaws in
U.S. Coast Guard vessels being constructed at the Pascagoula
Northrop Grumman spokesman Bill Glenn said the dispute between
the company and Coast Guard is in interpreting test data from a
Coast Guard spokesman Cmdr. Brendan McPherson agreed the dispute
is technical in nature.
"We have a difference in opinion in the lifespan of the
ships," McPherson said. "There is no question of the
seaworthiness of the ships. The issue is not in the safety of the
ships. They will do the job they are designed to do."
The National Security Cutters are $750 million vessels designed
to help the Coast Guard reach into deep waters off the United
The Coast Guard plans to buy eight of the cutters, each of which
are being built at Northrop Grumman's Ingalls Shipyard, the state's
largest private employer.
The first two cutters, the Bertholf and the Waesche are under
construction. Last November, Coast Guard officials christened the
Bertholf, the first cutter to be constructed, and expect to hand it
over to the Coast Guard in at the start of 2008. The Waesche is
expected to enter the Coast Guard's fleet in mid 2009.
The cutters are being constructed by a partnership between
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman named Integrated Coast Guard
According to U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., the cutters have a
possible flaw near the ballast pumps, which are below the
waterline. He said flaw could cause the hull to crack, which could,
in turn, lead to water flooding engine compartments or the cutter
Bill Glenn, spokesman for Northrop Grumman, however, said the
shipbuilder disagreed with the Coast Guard about a possible flaw
that was reported Wednesday.
He said the disagreement can be traced to how a Navy model is
used to evaluate hull design. He said the model gives one answer
when it is calibrated against what is known about existing, or
proven, ships. The raw data alone, though, gives a different answer
as to hull life, according to a www.gulflive.com article.
"When you use a known or proven ship to calibrate the model it
predicts in excess of 50 years," Glenn said. "When you run the
model with raw data it predicts less than 30 years."