On Dec. 6, 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard commissioned its fourth Legend-class vessel, the national security cutter Hamilton (WMSL 753), into its fleet. The ceremony was held at Union Pier Terminal in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Hamilton is the first NSC homeported on the East Coast.
“As the commissioning crew of the first national security cutter on the East Coast, you have the unique opportunity to chart the course for the national security cutters that follow.”
Vice Adm. William “Dean” Lee, Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander, presided over the commissioning ceremony. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft delivered the keynote address.
“Together with my shipmates, we’re beginning the most important milestones in the life of a cutter,” said Capt. Doug Fears, Hamilton’s commanding officer and the most senior member of the crew. “The cutter Hamilton is now officially in active service to execute the most challenging maritime security, law enforcement, and national defense missions.”
“As the commissioning crew of the first national security cutter on the East Coast, you have the unique opportunity to chart the course for the national security cutters that follow,” said Lee, offering some leadership advice. “Hard work, dedication, and commitment will guarantee that you, the crew and the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton remain ‘Semper Paratus.’ You have my full confidence and trust for the task at hand.”
Fears read his orders and directed the national ensign and commissioning pennant to be hoisted. He then asked permission from the commandant of the Coast Guard to set the first watch, officially placing the CGC Hamilton in commission.
Commissioning is the act of placing a Coast Guard cutter in active service. Modern ships are prepared for service in a much different manner than the ships under sail of yesterday, yet the ceremonies for honoring the traditions of the past are preserved through the commissioning ceremony.
The 418-foot cutter is the fourth of eight planned Legend-class vessels to enter into service. NSCs are the largest and most technologically advanced cutters in the service’s fleet, replacing the 50-year-old 378-foot high endurance cutters. They are capable of better seakeeping and higher sustained speeds as well as greater endurance than legacy cutters. NSCs feature command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities and provide interoperability with U.S. Navy systems and a common operational picture to enhance maritime domain awareness. Legend-class cutters can accommodate two H-65 Dolphins, or one H-65 or H-60 Jayhawk helicopter and two vertically launched unmanned aerial vehicles, or other combinations. The class also has a stern ramp for launching and recovering its assigned boats.
- Speed: up to 28 knots
- Range: 12,000 nautical miles
- Beam: 54 feet
- Crew complement: 122
- Displacement: 4,500 long tons
- Armament: Mk. 110 57 mm gun; Phalanx 20 mm close-in weapon system; Mk. 53 decoy launching system (NULKA); and four M2 .50-caliber machine guns
- Power plant: Combined diesel and gas (CODAG); one 30,565 SHP gas turbine engine and two 9,655 HP diesel engines
The flagship of the Atlantic cutter fleet is the sixth cutter to be named after Alexander Hamilton, who is also revered as the “Father of the Coast Guard.” As the secretary of the treasury in 1790, he established the Revenue Cutter Service, the precursor to the Coast Guard, and built the first 10 cutters to enforce tariff laws.
- Bertholf (WMSL 750) Alameda, California
- Waesche (WMSL 751) Alameda, California
- Stratton (WMSL 752) Alameda, California
- Hamilton (WMSL 753) Charleston, South Carolina
- James (WMSL 754) under construction, future homeport Charleston, South Carolina
- Munro (WMSL 755) under construction, future homeport Alameda, California
- Kimball (WMSL 756) under construction, future homeport Honolulu, Hawaii
- Midgett (WMSL 757) planned; long lead-time materials ordered, future homeport Honolulu, Hawaii