The U.S. Coast Guard accepted delivery of its 32nd fast response cutter (FRC), the future USCGC Benjamin Bottoms (WPC-1132), in Key West, Florida, Jan. 8.
It will be the fourth FRC stationed in San Pedro, California, and will be commissioned in May.
The cutter’s namesake, Benjamin Bottoms, was 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 planned to return the next day for other survivors, but while en route on Nov. 29, their aircraft crashed. Bottoms’ and the pilot’s bodies 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 ships can reach a top speed of at least 28 knots and have an endurance of at least five days. The FRCs 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. Twenty-nine are in service: 12 in Florida, six in Puerto Rico, one 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.