The US Coast Guard’s massive $25 billion Deepwater meta-program (really Deepwater-II given post-9/11 changes) has endured more than its share of ups and downs. Nevertheless, Congressional support has remained strong, and efforts are being made to restructure the program and get it back on track. Yet the USCG’s Island Class cutter modification program, and the Deepwater Fast Response Cutter supposed to replace it, have faced many difficulties.
The Legend Class National Security Cutters are the largest ships in the Deepwater program, and represent the program’s flagship in more ways than one. The 418 foot, 4,400 ton ships will be frigate-sized vessels with a 21 foot draughts , and are rather larger than the 379 foot, 3,250 ton Hamilton Class High Endurance Cutters (HECs) they will replace. Controversies regarding durability and potential hull fatigue, as well as significant cost overruns, have shadowed the new cutter’s construction. rhe program has survived, and is pushing toward its end in a few years – but will the number of ships bought be enough to help the USCG? This DID FOCUS Article covers the Legend Class cutters’ specifications, program history, and key events.