Ingalls to christen Coast Guard Cutter Saturday

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - America's newest National Security Cutter will be christened in Pascagoula Saturday. Military brass will join hundreds of people Ingalls Shipyard in the morning to welcome the cutter Hamilton to the U.S. Coast Guard fleet. Shipbuilders and military leaders are confident the Hamilton will help keep our country safe.

Shipbuilders were busy Friday making last minute preparations for the big ceremony. After two years under construction, this National Security Cutter is about to be christened.

"I am thrilled,"  said ship sponsor Linda Papp. She's eager to carry on the age old tradition of breaking a bottle of champagne over the new ship's bow to officially name her.

"I have been practicing my swing because they said to me you have to break it on the first try. So, they did the run and I did break it, so I am relieved," said Mrs. Papp.

The vessel will bear the name Alexander Hamilton. One of our nation's founding fathers who also happens to be on your $10 bill.

"Alexander Hamilton essentially started the U.S. Coast Guard, so it commemorates that event and his support of the U.S. Coast Guard," Ingalls Shipbuilding President Irwin Edenzon said. "We're actually going to have one of his descents with us for the ceremony."

Edenzon said just like the ship's namesake, she was built for success.

"If you were to go and see this ship anywhere else in the world, it would probably be their most capable ship. It has radars, combat systems and sensors that allow it not only to do the Coast Guard's mission of law enforcement and economic sea line communication protection, but it also has the ability to go to war, if necessary," Edenzon said.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert  Papp Jr.  agrees this is a state of the art addition to the current, ageing fleet.

"We are getting some new ships out there to replace the 50-year-old ships that my U.S. Coast Guard people are working in right now. These ships give us tremendously enhanced capabilities for providing safety and security for the country, but they also take care of our people better.  Our people are much more comfortable on them and they can perform their jobs better," Papp said.

This ship will not enter the fleet just yet. It still has one more year of construction.

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