USCG keeps swelling FRC ranks
The big 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters, built to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats of the 80s and 90s, (which in turn replaced the 1950s era 95-foot Cape-class cutters, et.al) are fast becoming a backbone asset for the Coast Guard. Designed for five day patrols, these 32-knot vessels have a stern boat ramp like the smaller 87-foot WPBs, but carry a stabilized 25mm Mk38 and four M2s as well as much more ISR equipment. In a hattip to the fact they are so much more capable, the USCG uses the WPC hull designation, used last by the old “buck and a quarter” 125-foot cutters of the Prohibition-era with these craft, rather than the WPB patrol boat designation of the ships they are replacing.
You can bet these cutters are being looked at for littoral work such as in the Persian Gulf where the Navy has a whole squadron of 170-foot Cyclone-class (PCs) that are showing their age.
The latest FRC accepted, USCGC Oliver Berry (WPC 1124), is the 24th of 58 envisioned for the service.
And kudos to the worst-funded branch of the military for keeping to solid naval naming conventions in honoring past heroes by naming these ships after them, rather than for politicians and the like.
From the presser this week on Berry‘s acceptance:
The cutter’s namesake, Oliver Berry, is the first enlisted helicopter mechanic in naval aviation history and was an instrumental part in pioneering the use of the helicopter for search and rescue after World War II. In September 1946, he successfully disassembled a helicopter in Brooklyn, New York, organized transportation from New York to Newfoundland, Canada, and reassembled the helicopter for use to rescue 18 stranded passengers of a Belgian airliner that crashed near Gander, Newfoundland. He subsequently received the Silver Medal of the Order of Leopold II from the Belgian monarchy for his efforts.