U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), along with Representative Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), today lauded the award of a $487.1 million contract that will allow shipyard workers in Mississippi to provide the U.S. Coast Guard with its sixth National Security Cutter (NSC).
The U.S. Coast Guard has awarded the "fixed-price incentive firm target contract" to Huntington Ingalls Industries for the NSC #6 to be built at its shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. The shipyard is already working on producing two other NSC vessels, which are the most technologically-capable ships available to carry out the Coast Guard mission.
The Mississippi lawmakers have been strongly supportive of the USCG goal, first outlined in 2005, to procure a total of eight NSCs as a minimum baseline needed to meet mission requirements.
"This contract will allow workers in South Mississippi to carry on with their good work of producing the best ships available to serve our national and homeland security interests," said Cochran, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Coast Guard. "I also appreciate that this award keeps the Coast Guard's modernization plans on track and gives our Mississippi Gulf Coast more economic growth and certainty."
"These ships are the cornerstone of the Coast Guard's new modern fleet," said Wicker, who serves on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which oversees the Coast Guard. "During a recent hearing, I was pleased to hear the Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Robert Papp, express his strong commitment to fund all eight National Security Cutters. The NSC allows the Coast Guard to continue undertaking safety and security missions around the globe. The new contract is a testament to the pride and professionalism of Mississippi's shipbuilders who construct these vessels."
"These state-of-the-art cutters are some of the most direct contributions Mississippi makes in support of our nation's homeland security," said Palazzo, member of the House Homeland Security Committee. "They are an invaluable maritime asset for the Coast Guard, law enforcement, and the Department of Defense, and Pascagoula is the only place they are produced."
The Huntington Ingalls shipyard has already produced the first three NSCs for the Coast Guard and another two are under production in Pascagoula. NSC #4 is approximately 39 percent complete and NSC #5 is about 16 percent complete. The FY2014 budget request recommends $616 million to fully fund NSC #7.
Cochran, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, has worked in support of the Coast Guard to ensure that timely funding for NSC production is available to improve shipyard efficiencies. He has successfully advocated for inclusion of NSC funding in administration budget requests, and in the FY 2012 appropriations bill, he helped add $77 million that was not in the President's budget request for NSC #6 long lead time materials in order to guarantee work on that ship could begin. The Senator also pressured the administration to roll back a policy that would have delayed the execution of the NSC #6 contract by more than a year.