The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) accepted delivery of its 40th Sentinel-class fast response cutter (FRC), the future USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC-1140), from Bollinger Shipyards in Key West, Florida, on July 30.
The cutter will be the second of three planned FRCs stationed in Santa Rita, Guam. Stationing FRCs in Guam supports Operation Aiga, an effort to strengthen the community of island nations in Oceania.
“By placing an ocean-going Coast Guard buoy tender and FRCs, we will promote ‘rules-based order,’ build capacity and affirm the United States’ positive and enduring role in the region,” said Adm. Karl Schultz, Coast Guard commandant.
Chief Warrant Officer Oliver T. Henry, the cutter’s namesake, was one of the first Black petty officers and machinist mates in the Coast Guard, achieving the rank and rating well before the full integration of the Armed Forces. Henry’s rise started while serving aboard Coast Guard Cutter Northland during World War II, when he transitioned from the wardroom, where he served as a steward, to the engine room as a motor machinist mate. He was also one of the service’s first minority warrant officers and served over 15 years of his 26-year career as a warrant or chief warrant officer.
The future USCGC Oliver Henry is the 163rd vessel Bollinger has delivered to the U.S. Coast Guard over a 35-year period and the 40th Fast Response Cutter (FRC) delivered under the current 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. The first FRC to be homeported in Guam, the future USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC-1139), was delivered in May.
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.
USCG Fast Response Cutter (FRC)
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, also called as Sentinel-class cutters, 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 (CB-OTH) 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.
The U.S. Coast Guard has ordered 56 FRCs to date. Thirty-eight are in service: 12 in Florida; seven in Puerto Rico; four in California; three each in Hawaii, Texas and New Jersey; and two each in Alaska, Mississippi and North Carolina. Future FRC homeports include Santa Rita, Guam; Astoria, Oregon; and Kodiak, Seward and Sitka, Alaska.
The Coast Guard commissioned its 38th fast response cutter, USCGC Harold Miller (WPC-1138), during a ceremony in Galveston, Texas, on July 15. The 39th vessel of the class, the future USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC-1139), was delivered to the Coast Guard in May.