The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) commissioned the 26th fast response cutter (FRC), USCGC Joseph Gerczak (WPC-1126), in Honolulu March 9. The cutter is the second FRC stationed in Honolulu.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Gerczak, the cutter’s namesake, was killed in action Dec. 26, 1943, while serving on USS LST-66 as it began its assault on the Japanese-held Borgen Bay area of New Britain, Papua New Guinea. When enemy dive-bombers attacked, Gerczak was the first to react and shot down two of the attackers before he was mortally wounded by shrapnel from an explosion. Gerczak posthumously received the Purple Heart Medal, among others.
The 154-foot FRCs are designed to patrol coastal regions and are replacing the 1980s-era 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. They feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment; the ability to launch and recover cutter boats from astern or via side davits; and improved seakeeping and habitability.
They have an endurance of five days and reach a maximum speed of over 28 knots. The cutters are complemented operationally by the offshore capabilities of the national security cutters and by the extended range and endurance of the offshore patrol cutters.
The Coast Guard has ordered 44 of the planned 58 FRCs, and 26 are in service: 12 in Florida, six in Puerto Rico, two in Alaska, two in New Jersey, two in Mississippi and two in Hawaii. Future FRC homeports include Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, and San Pedro, California.