New Coast Guard Ship Has Rust, Holes in Hull

Byline: Associated Press/Alicia A. Caldwell

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — When a boat springs a leak, it’s often the Coast Guard that comes to the rescue. But who rescues the Coast Guard when one of its new ships does the same thing?

Capt. Charles Cashin, who commands the Coast Guard’s newest national security cutter, Stratton, said he called in engineers last month when his crew discovered a trio of “pinholes” and a fourth hole “slightly smaller than a golf ball” in the ship’s hull.

Cashin said the four holes, discovered in mid-April while the ship was working off the coast of Los Angeles, have been patched for now, but Stratton soon will head to dry dock for permanent repairs.

The holes and other spots of rust on the hull are unusual, given the ship’s age. The Coast Guard took delivery in September and Cashin and his crew put it in operation in October. The ship is based in Alameda.

Stratton is the third new 418-foot ship acquired as part of the Coast Guard’s efforts to modernize its aging fleet.

Cmdr. Chris O’Neil, a Coast Guard spokesman in Washington, said engineers aren’t yet sure why the ship is already having problems with rust and holes but they have concluded it is not a design problem in the ship, which cost the Coast Guard about $500 million. Similar problems have not been found in the fleet’s two other ships of the same class.

Permanent repairs are likely to take four to six weeks, O’Neil said. He added that the Coast Guard is in contact with the ship’s builder, Huntington Ingalls. The ship was constructed by Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Miss.

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