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Ingalls starts work on a cutter named for a hero

Ship Sponsor Jazania O’Neal writes her initials on a steel plate that will be welded inside Midgett (WMSL 757), the National Security Cutter named in honor of her grandfather, John Allen Midgett. Pictured with O’Neal are Capt. Christopher Webb, left, commanding officer, U.S. Coast Guard Project Resident Office Gulf Coast; Brian Cuccias, Ingalls Shipbuilding president, and Jack Beard, a structural welder at Ingalls.
Ship Sponsor Jazania O’Neal writes her initials on a steel plate that will be welded inside Midgett (WMSL 757), the National Security Cutter named in honor of her grandfather, John Allen Midgett. Pictured with O’Neal are Capt. Christopher Webb, left, commanding officer, U.S. Coast Guard Project Resident Office Gulf Coast; Brian Cuccias, Ingalls Shipbuilding president, and Jack Beard, a structural welder at Ingalls.

Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula on Friday authenticated the keel of the National Security Cutter Midgett (WMSL 757). The vessel honors a man who rescued 42 British sailors aboard the burning British tanker Mirlo in 1918 after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of North Carolina during World War I.

John Allen Midgett was a senior enlisted member of the U.S. Lifesaving Service when it merged with the U.S. Lighthouse Service and U.S. Revenue Cutter Service to become the U.S. Coast Guard. He was awarded the silver cup by the United Kingdom Board of Trade in 1918 and the Gold Lifesaving Medal by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1924.

Just as the construction industry has a “topping off” ceremony when a building’s highest level of construction is reached, Ingalls and other shipbuilders authenticate a keel when substantial work begins on a new ship.

Midgett’s granddaughter and the ship’s sponsor, Jazania O’Neal, was at Ingalls and declared the keel to be “truly and fairly laid” during Friday’s ceremony. Her initials were welded onto a keel plate by Jack Beard, a structural welder at Ingalls.

“For my grandfather to be memorialized as the namesake for this ship — in the company of the seven other Legend-class ship namesakes — surpasses validation of our heritage on a worldwide scale,” O’Neal said. “We wish you well throughout the remaining construction of this fine ship, and we look forward to seeing you at the christening.”

Ingalls has delivered six NSCs to the Coast Guard and two more are under construction. In December, Ingalls received a $486 million fixed-price incentive contract from the Coast Guard to build a ninth National Security Cutter.

“The Midgett, like her sister ships, is being built to the highest quality standards with outstanding cost and schedule performance, and the NSC team is energized to make this one the best yet,” Ingalls President Brian Cuccias said.

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