Hamilton to Bertholf

Check out this great view of Coast Guard Island in Alameda, taken 30 years ago this month, showing five immaculate USCG high endurance cutters:

USCGC Boutwell (WPG-719; WHEC-719) in the foreground; then directly starboard of Boutwell is the USCGC Jarvis (WHEC-725) which is moored ahead of the USCGC Munro (WHEC-724). Munro is astern of Jarvis and inboard of the Morgenthau (WHEC-722)–note the Harpoon launchers on Morgenthau directly behind her main battery; and finally, the USCGC Sherman (WPG-720; WHEC-720) is directly astern of the Munro; USCG PACAREA photo; photo no. #PA 051892(01)-34A; May, 1992; photo by PAC R. L. Woods.

The top of the line in 1960s warship technology, the dozen New Orleans-built Hamilton-class of High Endurance Coast Guard Cutters or “378s” as they are referred to by the branch, were the go-to workhorses of USCG for five decades. They replaced a host of WWII (and earlier) cutters and stood on the line against the Soviets, ready to escort convoys to Europe if the balloon ever went up. They saw a real-live shooting war in Vietnam, providing naval gunfire support to the troops ashore. Mostly based on the west coast, today the class spends most of its time in Alaskan and Hawaiian waters.

Above you see five in 1992 in San Diego (Alameda). This is just after they were FRAM’d with Harpoon missiles (only Morgenthau so equipped) 76mm guns, CIWS, and modern torpedo tubes using Mk50s.

Of these five today, all are still in hard use around the Pacific rim and the Indian Ocean. Sherman transferred to the Sri Lanka Navy in 2018 as SLNS Gajabahu (P626). Munro decommissioned last April and is slated to transfer to the Vietnam Coast Guard where Morgenthau has been serving as CSB 8020 since 2017. Boutwell transferred to the Philippine Navy in 2016 as BRP Andres Bonifacio. Meanwhile, Jarvis has served the Bangladesh Navy since 2012 as BNS Somudro Joy (F-28).

The Hamiltons have all since been replaced by the new Bertholf-class National Security Cutters and four– USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750), Waesche (WMSL-751), Stratton (WMSL-752), and Munro (WMSL-755)– are all stationed there. 

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