The U.S. government will donate two surplus Island-class cutter patrol boats with a total value of $18.9 million to the Costa Rica Coast Guard (Guarda Costas).
U.S. Assistant Secretary William Brownfield of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs announced the donation following a meeting with President Luis Guillermo Solís at Casa Presidencial last Wednesday.
In modern times the Costa Rican Coast Guard, established as a branch of the Guardia Civil in 1949, had a single sea-going patrol boat on each coast (Caribbean and Pacific) along with some smaller shallow water vessels with outboard motors.
In 1989 they picked up their most advanced ship, the former 95-foot patrol boat USCGC Cape Henlopen (WPB-95328) which served as Astronauta Franklin Chang Diaz (SP 951) until 2001 and was later sunk as a reef.
Diaz was augmented in 1991 by a surplus USCG Point-class cutter, the 82-foot Colonel Alfonso Monje (SP 82-1) (ex-USCGC Point Hope (WPB-82302)) and in 2001 by SNGC Juan Rafael Mora (SP 82-2) (ex-USCGC Point Chico (WPB-82339)).
So presumably the new-to-them 110-foot cutters will replace the significantly smaller and now nearly 60~ year-old Monje and Mora. These boats are vastly different with the Islands carrying a Mk.38 25mm chain gun and 2-4 M2 .50 cals while the former “Points” were transferred without any mounted weapons and have subsequently been fitted with twin M60s forward.
Further, the 82’s have 8-10 man crews while the 110’s go twice that.
The English-language Costa Rican media outlet Tico Times reports some 50 CRCG members will soon be sent to the U.S. to train on their new ships.
The 110-foot ships will be the largest in the Costa Rican Coast Guard fleet when they arrive in 2017.