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VT Halter Prepares for Construction of Polar Security Cutter

psc polar security cutter
Polar Security Cutter (Courtesy VT Halter)

Published Jan 7, 2021 8:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

VT Halter Marine has completed a major upgrade project to its launch way in preparation for building the first Polar Security Cutter, the U.S. Coast Guard's next-generation heavy icebreaker. 

Designed to break through Antarctic ice to reach America's McMurdo research station, the 19,000-ton PSC will be a very stout vessel. Crowley Maritime's boxships Taino and El Coqui were the heaviest vessels to launch yet from the company’s dock, but they were about 250 feet longer than the PSC - meaning that the mass of the icebreaker will be concentrated on a smaller area. 

“Based on weight per foot, the PSC outweighs those vessels,” said Bob Merchent, the president and CEO of Halter Marine. “The PSC needs 22 tons of capacity per linear foot of rail line, and we have designed the new launch way to accommodate 27 tons per linear foot. We are preparing for our newest vessel while also looking forward to future, larger vessels.”

Giant augers drill holes for the casting of new piles on VT Halter's launch way (VT Halter)

Halter began to prepare for the heavy load of the PSC in July by by removing 11 launch way rail lines. Next, crews dug nearly 1,300 holes, which were filled with grout and concrete to create new piles. These piles will transfer the weight of the PSC’s heavy load deeper below ground. The launch way upgrade project was funded with a grant from the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA). 

“Each drilled hole is 110 feet long, and we are pouring 27 miles of piles,” said Kevin Amis, EVP for operations at Halter Marine. “We are completing this project with a perfect safety record. I’m proud of the women and men at Halter Marine and Malouf Construction for accomplishing this invaluable project with a true focus on safety.”