Another 378 is being sent to pasture with the looming retirement and decommissioning of USCGC Boutwell (WHEC-719), who returned from her final patrol last week, a 41-day run around the Bearing Sea.
Based out of San Diego and named for Grant’s Treasury secretary, Boutwell was laid down in 1967 during a very different time in history than we know now.
The 3250-ton Hamilton-class cutter has put in 47 years of hard service that included standing by the disabled Soviet H-2 nuclear-powered submarine in 1972, the Prinsendam ocean liner rescue in 1980, the crazy Orca incident, shelled the Fukuyoshi Maru No. 85 ghost ship under the waves with her 5-inch deck gun (back when the USCG had 5-inch guns), and spent much time on six-week long Alaska Patrols during which she conducted surveillance operations and enforced international treaties and U.S. laws during the heart of the Cold War– often tracking multiple Soviet sonar contacts at the same time (back when the Coasties ran ASW).
She is scheduled to be modified and handed over to the Philippine Navy in coming months.
Although 36 cutters of this class were originally planned, only 12 were ever built. So far six Hamiltons have been retired and passed on to Allied navies including The Philippines who operate Gregorio del Pilar (ex-Hamilton) and Ramon Alcaraz (ex-Dallas), the Nigerians who run Okpabana (ex-Gallatin) and Thunder (ex-Chase) and the Bangladesh Navy with their Somudro Joy (ex-Jarvis) and Somudro Avijan (ex-Rush).
Boutwell‘s decommissioning will leave the USCG with only Mellon, Sherman, Morgenthau, Munro and Midgett in service (for now) from this vintage line.
Fair winds and full sails, Boutwell.