- Associated Press - Saturday, August 16, 2014

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - The Coast Guard is welcoming a new ship named for a legendary 19th century lifesaver who worked for a predecessor of the agency.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James was christened Saturday at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.

The Mississippi Press reports (http://bit.ly/1rfAZkL) the James is the fifth ship in the national security cutter class built by the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard.

The ship bears the name of Capt. Joshua James and was christened by his great-great-niece, Charlene James Benoit.

James, born in 1826, saved hundreds across his 60-year career. He died at 75 after running a drill with his U.S. Life-Saving Service crew in 1902. The 418-foot-long ship is the first to bear his name.

Benoit, Coast Guard leaders and others spoke of James’ legacy and thanked shipbuilders for craft, which will have a top speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles and a crew of 110.

The ship’s namesake “embodied our guiding principles of service to nation, duty to people and commitment to excellence long before we ever thought to write them down,” said Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger, vice commandant of the Coast Guard and the event’s keynote speaker.

“He was multi-mission before we knew what that meant,” Neffenger said, noting James embraced the latest technologies and even conducted maritime surveillance during the Spanish-American War.

Benoit said she was humbled and honored to have her ancestor’s name on such a powerful ship.

“My hope for this ship is that the experiences of the crew who is going to bring this ship to life will be ones of good health, good fortune and safety because we are so grateful for their service,” she said.

The James is expected to be delivered in the second quarter of next year. Ingalls is building three cutters, and has a contract to start on the eighth ship.

Ingalls has proposed that the Navy base a new ship on the Coast Guard cutter.

___

Information from: The Mississippi Press, http://www.gulflive.com

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