The U.S. Coast Guard’s third 154-foot fast response cutter, the William Flores, was launched at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La., today.
The launch of William Flores into the waters of Bayou Lafourche marks a major milestone as the fast response cutter readies for sea trials, delivery, crew training and eventual commissioning. You can see the launch take place in the photos below.
After commissioning, the William Flores will be homeported in Miami, with a crew of 24 to conduct alien migrant interdiction operations, port, waterways and coastal security patrols, search and rescue, fisheries and national defense missions.
Seaman Apprentice William Ray “Billy” Flores, namesake of the cutter, gave his life to save his shipmates in the frenzied moments after a collision between Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn and the 605-foot oil tanker Capricorn Jan. 28, 1980.
The 19-year-old Flores, who was less than a year out of boot camp, remained aboard Blackthorn as it was sinking and used his belt to strap open the lifejacket locker door, allowing additional lifejackets to float to the surface.
Altogether, 27 of Flores’ shipmates escaped the submerged Blackthorn, but tragically 22, including Flores, perished aboard Blackthorn.
To learn more about the heroes the first Sentinel-class fast response cutters have been named for, check out the Coast Guard Compass series.