Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp participated in a dedication ceremony for the Coast Guard’s fast response cutter fleet in Lockport, La., today. The new 154-foot cutters being built by Bollinger Shipyards are a key aspect of the Coast Guard’s recapitalization program and provide the service with critical mission capabilities to protect America now and well into the future.
“The Sentinel-Class Fast Response Cutter is an exceptional platform for Coast Guard operations,” said Papp. “These cutters are a game changer for our service.”
Important features of FRCs make them more capable of performing Coast Guard missions than the aging 110-foot Island Class patrol boats they will replace. These cutters provide larger and more stable platforms from which to conduct operations, safer small boat launch and recovery in heavy seas via stern ramp, the ability to detect threats at longer range, remotely operated weapons to protect the crew, and the capacity to remain on station at sea for longer periods of time.
The Coast Guard plans to build 58 FRCs, and each will be named for Coast Guard enlisted heroes. Initially, the cutters will be homeported in Miami and Key West, Fla., two busy operational areas for the Coast Guard.
The first FRC, Bernard C. Webber, will be commissioned in Miami on April 14.
The FRCs will be utilized for a variety of Coast Guard missions – primarily search and rescue, counter drug and migrant operations, enforcing fisheries regulations and homeland security – where they provide exceptional value, flexibility, and effective mission execution.
They are needed to perform these duties along the nation’s approximately 95,000 miles of coastline, 50,000 miles of navigable waters and 3.5 million square miles of maritime Exclusive Economic Zones. Their size and design is ideal for operating across these expansive areas.
“FRCs are an essential capability for our service,” said Papp. “I anticipate they will become key workhorses for our service, a role held today by the cutters they will replace.”
There are several significant dates in the birth of a ship, which typically include the keel laying, christening (normally associated with the launch into the water), and commissioning. Today’s dedication ceremony for the fast response cutter fleet replaces individual christening ceremonies as it’s more practical than an individual ceremony for each vessel given the number of cutters in this class.
The names for the 14 cutters have been determined at this time. Many family members of these cutter’s namesakes were on hand to view the event as a commissioning pennant and box was dedicated for each ship. Later, upon commissioning, cutters will receive their individual pennant and box.
“I am honored to be part of this unique ceremony,” said Papp. “In a service of dedicated professionals who perform heroic deeds on a daily basis, it was a privilege for me to officially dedicate cutters for the most exceptional Coast Guard men and women.”
The FRC is the new generation in a long history of Coast Guard patrol boats. It assures the Coast Guard will retain the ability to protect those on the sea, protect America from threats delivered by sea, and protect the sea itself.