Second African Hamilton reports for duty
When the Alexander Hamilton-class (WHEC-715) high endurance cutters of the United States Coast Guard were designed in the early 1960s, the 3250-ton 378-foot light frigates were extremely advanced for their time. In fact, they pioneered the use of a CODAG engineering plant and fleet use of gas turbines.
A full dozen of these ships were commissioned (although they were originally supposed to be over 32 hulls strong) and they gave yeoman service in Vietnam and on the old Ocean Stations before both of those faded into history. Refit and modernized for Cold War service in the late 1980s they are, with some five decades on their hulls now, being replaced by the new National Security Cutter. However, in true small surface combatant tradition, they are being farmed out to other countries for a couple more decades of use.
The Philippines have already picked up two since 2011 : BRP Gregorio del Pilar (ex-Hamilton) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (ex-Dallas) and wants a third while Nigeria just had their second ship of the class show up for service.
As reported by the local media there, NNS Okpabana, formerly USCGC Gallatin (WHEC-721), arrived in Nigeria Friday and is to soon begin work fighting oil smuggling, piracy and terrorist groups in the local littoral. Although the ship was donated to Nigeria by the US government, the navy spent about 8.5 million dollars in refurbishing the vessel and emplacing its armament.
Gallatin, decommissioned 31 March 2014 in Charleston, was turned over to the Nigerian Navy this Spring and rechristened under her new name. With a crew of 117 ratings and 29 officers, Okpabana made port calls in Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, Dakar in Senegal and Tema in Ghana on the way to its new home from the U.S.
Her sistership, NNS Thunder F90 (formerly the ex-USCGC Chase) has been in Nigerian service for two years and sports a natty haze gray scheme.