Currently 9 Legend-class Cutters have been commissioned out of a total of 11 planned.

12 Hamilton-class cutters of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) have been in service since 1967. Despite being born for a long time, their design is considered to be decades ahead of their time, so after being decommissioned, Hamilton vessels still become secondhand goods that are sought after by many countries. Currently the role of the Hamilton class is inherited by the more advanced Legend class and is also the largest active patrol cutter class of the United States Coast Guard.

Launched in 2008, the class was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding. Currently 9 ships have been commissioned out of a total of 11 planned. With a unit price of up to 735 million USD each, the Legend class is even more expensive than some 5,000-ton destroyers, showing that the US has invested a lot in this vessels. This class can be deployed in homeland security, law enforcement, patrolling, maritime safety, environmental protection, and national defence missions.

Legend-class Cutter
Legend-class Cutter

The cutter has an overall length of 127.4m (418ft), a beam of 16.4m (54ft), and a draft of 6.8m (22.5ft). The full load displacement is 4,500t and can accommodate a crew of 120. The vessels are constructed with a steel hull and steel superstructure with steel bulkheads. The cutters have a reduced radar cross-section, which gives the cutters a higher degree of stealth over the past cutters. The design uses a modified version of the same stealthy mast design as the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

To facilitate intercept missions, the Legend-class can carry and launch both the Short Range Prosecutor and the Long Range Interceptor rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs). There is a rear-launching ramp, capable of launching and retrieving the two aft-stored RHIBs while underway.

A flight deck and a hangar at the stern can support the operation of a variety of manned and unmanned rotary-wing aircraft. It can accommodate an MH-65C or MH-60T and two vertical launch unmanned aerial vehicles or other combinations. The on-board C4 intelligence, survival, and reconnaissance (ISR) system provides real-time situational awareness and enhances interoperability between naval units. The cutters feature NBC detection and defence systems to repel chemical, biological, or radiological attacks.

For self-defense, the Legend class is armed with a 57mm MK110 main gun fitted forward, which can fire at a rate of up to 220 rounds a minute for a range of nine miles. Close-in air defence capability is provided with a 20mm Phalanx close-in weapon system. There are also four 12.7 mm Browning M2 heavy machine guns and two 7.62 mm M240B machine guns.

The three-dimensional air and surface search radar is the Hensoldt TRS-3D radar system. There are also SPQ-9B fire control radar, and Mk46 electro-optical / infrared sensor. The SLQ-32 electronic warfare system protects the cutters from anti-ship missiles in an open sea environment. The MK 53 NULKA anti-ship missile self-defence system integrates decoys / launchers. It can deceive new generation radar homing anti-ship missiles by launching autonomous decoys.

Like many recent US weapons projects, Legend class cutters also have some problems related to progress and performance, leading to modification requirements, causing high costs. Compared to a destroyer like Korea’s KDX-II, a 5,000-ton vessel that costs about $700 million but is heavily armed, it can be seen that the Legend has a ridiculously high price tag.


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