The U.S. Coast Guard commissioned its 32nd Sentinel-class fast response cutter (FRC), USCGC Benjamin Bottoms (WPC-1132), in San Pedro, California, May 1.
The cutter is the fourth of four FRCs to be stationed in San Pedro.
Benjamin Bottoms, the namesake of the cutter, served as a radioman 1st class, assigned in early 1942 to a Grumman J2F-4 aircraft that carried out a Greenland patrol. Bottoms and the pilot, on Nov. 28, took part in a daring rescue of two victims of a B-17 crash on Greenland’s west coast. Bottoms and the pilot of the J2F-4 returned the next day for other survivors, but while en route back to the cutter on Nov. 29, their aircraft crashed. Bottoms, the pilot and the injured airman they were carrying who had survived the earlier B-17 crash were never found; Bottoms was declared deceased a year later. For his efforts in the rescue, he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The Sentinel-class FRCs feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment; over-the-horizon cutter boat deployment to reach vessels of interest; and improved habitability and seakeeping. The cutters are designed for multiple missions, including search and rescue; national defense; ports, waterways and coastal security; drug and migrant interdiction; and fisheries patrols.
The Coast Guard has ordered 50 FRCs to date. Thirty-two are in service: 12 in Florida; six in Puerto Rico; four in California and two each in Alaska, New Jersey, Mississippi, Hawaii and North Carolina. Future FRC homeports include Galveston, Texas; Santa Rita, Guam; Astoria, Oregon; and Kodiak, Seward and Sitka, Alaska.