PASCAGOULA, Mississippi — Ingalls Shipbuilding held a christening ceremony Saturday for National Security Cutter Calhoun (WMSL 759) — the 10th NSC the Pascagoula shipyard has built for the U.S. Coast Guard.
WMSL 759 is named in honor of Charles L. Calhoun, the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard. Calhoun served in the U.S. Navy for three years during World War II as a torpedoman 2nd class, serving aboard the USS Lunga Point in the Pacific theatre. He participated in historic battles at Leyte Gulf, Luzon, Iwo Jima and Okinawa before being honorably discharged in 1946.
He enlisted in the Coast Guard shortly after being discharged from the Navy, assigned the rank of Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class due to his Navy training and experience. He would later serve aboard the USCGC Point Orient during the Vietnam War. The cutter fired shots at the enemy during its very first patrol, making the Point Orient the first Coast Guard cutter to fire shots in the war.
Calhoun would ultimately rise to Master Chief Petty officer of the Coast Guard, being named the first to hold the newly-created position on Aug. 27, 1969. He would serve in the position nearly four years before retiring in August 1973. He died in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Feb. 24, 2022 at the age of 76.
Calhoun’s commendations and awards include the Coast Guard’s Legion of Merit, Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbon, the Combat Action Ribbon and the Navy Presidential Unit Citation.
During Saturday’s ceremony, Christina Calhoun Zubowicz, ship sponsor and granddaughter of the namesake, christened the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.
“On behalf of the Calhoun family, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation for the tremendous work being done here at Ingalls Shipbuilding,” Zubowicz said. “Rest assured that my grandfather would be admiring this ship with great pride today knowing that his name would continue his life’s work of carrying out Coast Guard missions.”
Ingalls is the nation’s sole provider of Legend-class cutters to the Coast Guard. Ingalls president Kari Wilkinson noted the shipyard’s commitment to building “magnificent” ships for the Coast Guard.
“Today’s christening is an acknowledgement of an important and valued partnership between our shipyard and the United States Coast Guard,” Wilkinson said. “We consider it a privilege to build these magnificent ships and as shipbuilders, we are humbled to further Master Chief Calhoun’s legacy.”
U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Linda Fagan was the day’s keynote speaker, having recently been appointed to lead the Coast Guard, making her the armed forces’ first female service chief.
“I’m super proud of the Ingalls team, I know how much heart and soul goes into building a ship like this,” Fagan said. “These national security cutters are absolutely vital to our national security and economic prosperity.
“We are a global coast guard, forward deployed — conducting exercises with maritime forces, strengthening security partnerships and maritime governance in critical parts of the world right now.”
Ingalls has delivered nine Legend-class cutters to the Coast Guard, with to more under construction. Calhoun is scheduled to be delivered in early 2023.
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