Bollinger Shipyards has delivered the 39th Fast Response Cutter (FRC), the future USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC-1139), to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in Key West, Florida.
This is the 162nd vessel Bollinger has delivered to the U.S. Coast Guard over a 35-year period and the 39th Fast Response Cutter (FRC) delivered under the current program.
Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Myrtle Hazard, the cutter’s namesake, was the first active-duty female to serve in the Coast Guard. Approximately three weeks before the United States entered into World War I, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ordered the recruitment of the first women into the naval reserves. The Coast Guard, as an arm of the U.S. Navy in wartime, also enlisted women. Hazard’s service as an electrician’s mate was unusual as many women served in administrative positions. In fact, while much is unknown about Coast Guard women serving during World War I, Hazard has been cited as the only female electrician in the Coast Guard during that time.
The future USCGC Myrtle Hazard is the first of three FRCs to be home-ported in Apra Harbor, Guam, increasing the presence for the U.S. Coast Guard in the Indo-Pacific theater. Additionally, later in 2020, Bollinger will be delivering the first of six FRCs that will be home-ported in Manama, Bahrain, which will replace the Island Class Patrol Boats supporting the Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the United States.
“Our latest delivery of the USCGC MYRTLE HAZARD is an important milestone in the FRC Program as it is the first of several vessels that will expand and support the Coast Guard’s operational presence and enhance the U.S.’s mission in the Indo-Pacific region – a focal point emphasized by both President Trump and Admiral Shultz,” said Bollinger President & C.E.O. Ben Bordelon. “Building ships for the U.S. Coast Guard provides critical assets to bolster our national security interests, both domestic and abroad. We are proud and humbled to be partners in the FRC program.”
The homeporting of three FRCs in Guam is part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s “doubling down on Oceania,” allowing more frequent and longer patrols in an area where the U.S. Coast Guard has increased its presence over the past 18 months and is aligned with the priorities set in the 2018 National Defense Strategy on countering strategic competitors such as China and Russia.
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz stressed the strategic importance of the service’s presence in the region saying, “We’re on a trajectory where the geostrategic importance of the Oceania region has not been higher here in decades, and it’s a place that the Coast Guard’s looking to be part of the whole-of-government solution set.”
While the last 12 weeks of the USCGC MYRTLE HAZARD’s build occurred during the COVID-19 global pandemic, Bollinger undertook precautions to ensure the health and safety of employees and maintain its delivery schedule. In addition to increased and enhanced sanitization practices across the shipyard, Bollinger enacted more liberal leave and remote work policies as well as altered shift schedules to promote social distancing.
Bordelon continued, “Delivering vessels on schedule and on budget to the Coast Guard in these unprecedented times given the COVID-19 challenges that we are all facing shows the resiliency and dedication of our incredibly capable workforce. The FRC hot production line continues to produce and provide stability in the industrial base for the U.S. Government and our Bollinger workforce, assuring economic benefit for the Lafourche Parish Louisiana region, our vendor partners in the 40-plus states that support the FRC program, and our country.“
The Fast Response Cutters (FRCs), named after Coast Guard enlisted heroes, are replacing the USCG’s 1980s-era 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. The vessels have a length of 154 feet, a beam of 25 feet, a draft 9 feet 6 inches and a displacement of 353 long tons. They have a maximum speed of 28 knots, a range of 2,500 nautical miles and endurance of at least a five-day deployment.
The FRCs are armed with a stabilized 25-mm machine gun mount and four crew-served .50-caliber machine guns, and are equipped with advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment. The cutters feature improved habitability and seakeeping, and over-the-horizon cutter boat launch and recovery from astern or via side davits. The crew complement of the FRC is 24.
The fast response cutters are capable of deploying independently to conduct multiple missions which include drug and migrant interdiction; ports, waterways and coastal security; fishery patrols; search and rescue (SAR); and national defense.
Thirty-six are in service: 12 in Florida; seven in Puerto Rico; four in California; three each in Hawaii and New Jersey; two each in Alaska, Mississippi and North Carolina; and one in Texas. The Coast Guard has ordered 50 of the cutters to date. Future FRC homeports include Santa Rita, Guam; Astoria, Oregon; and Kodiak, Seward and Sitka, Alaska.
The 36th fast response cutter, USCGC Daniel Tarr (WPC-1136), was commissioned during a ceremony at Sector Field Office Galveston, Texas on Jan. 10. The 37th vessel of the class, the future USCGC Edgar Culbertson (WPC-1137), was delivered to the Coast Guard on Feb. 6.