Tag Archives: USCGC Munro (WMSL 755)

Farewell, Munro, last of the 378s

In January 1965, USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715) the first of the country’s 378-foot High Endurance Cutters– and the largest designed for the service up to that time– was laid down. Equipped roughly as a destroyer escort with six ASW torpedo tubes, sonar, and a 5″/38, they were also the country’s first CODAG engineering suites introduced into service.

The Hamilton-class cutters were one of the first naval vessels built with a combined diesel and gas turbine propulsion plant. “The twin screws can use 7,000 diesel shaft horsepower to make 17 knots, and a total of 36,000 gas turbine shaft horsepower to make 28 knots. The diesel engines are Fairbanks-Morse and are larger versions of a 1968 diesel locomotive design. Her Pratt-Whitney marine gas turbine engines are similar to those installed in Boeing 707 passenger jet aircraft.”

Over the years, they stood on the front line of the Cold War and saw some combat during Vietnam’s Operation Market Time providing naval gunfire support for troops ashore while busting blacked-out munition-laden trawlers poking around the littoral at night. In the 1980s, they FRAM’d with the provision to carry Harpoon AShMs while trading in the old 5-inchers for a 76mm OTO and a CIWS, then continued to soldier on.

When Hamilton struck in 2011, it started a slo-mo fuze on the 12 ships of the class that will burn out at the end of the month with the decommissioning of Kodiak-based USCGC Douglas Munro (WHEC-724), which joined the fleet in 1971– 50 years ago.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro in Kodiak, July 2018. USCG Photo/ENS Jake Marx.

From COMDT COGARD, WASHINGTON DC:

UNCLAS
ALCOAST 088/21
SSIC 4500
SUBJ: USCGC DOUGLAS MUNRO (WHEC 724) 49 YEARS OF SERVICE
1. On 31 Mar 2021, after 49 years of faithful service to
our Nation, CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO will transition to In-Commission
Special status. This status begins the decommissioning process.
Throughout the cutter’s service, CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO crews
embodied the cutter’s motto –
“Honoring the Past by Serving the Present.”
2. CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO was named in honor of Coast Guard
Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro, who was awarded
the Medal of Honor for acts of extraordinary heroism in World
War II. As the Officer-in-Charge of an eight-craft amphibious
landing force during the Guadalcanal Campaign, Munro bravely
used his landing craft and its .30 caliber machine gun to
shield and protect several hundred Marines who were under
heavy enemy fire. He was mortally wounded during this effort,
but his actions allowed for the Marines to be extracted by
other landing craft. Commissioned on 27 Sep 1971 as the tenth
cutter in the Hamilton Class, CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO was originally
homeported in Boston, MA but quickly moved to its Seattle, WA
homeport in 1973. CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO again shifted homeport to
Honolulu, HI in 1981 and then to Alameda, CA in 1989. CGC DOUGLAS
MUNRO made a final homeport shift to Kodiak, AK in 2007.
3. Over the course of the cutter’s distinguished career, those who
sailed aboard CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO served in a multitude of domestic
and international theaters including the Bering Sea and Gulf
of Alaska, Persian Gulf and Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia
and Eastern Pacific Ocean.
4. CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO’s proud legacy of honorable service to
the Nation began in the early 1970s patrolling Ocean Stations
Delta, Bravo, and November, providing weather data to trans-
Pacific flights, supporting oceanographic research missions,
and performing search-and-rescue operations. CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO
also patrolled the Pacific for decades as a critical enforcer
of fisheries regulations, particularly with the international
fleets of the former Soviet Union, Korea, Indonesia, and Russia.
In 1998, CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO interdicted over 11.5 tons of cocaine
on a Mexican flagged vessel, the XOLESUIENTLE, in what remains
to this day one of the largest single drug seizures in USCG
history. The following year, CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO seized the motor
vessel WING FUNG LUNG, which was attempting to transport 259
illegal Chinese migrants to the United States. In early 2005,
at the beginning of a six-month, 37,000 mile global circumnavigation
that included support to Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING
FREEDOM, CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO diverted to render assistance to
countries affected by the devastating December 26, 2004 Indian
Ocean tsunami. CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO’s legacy was epitomized on
March 23, 2008 when the cutter and its embarked MH-65 Aviation
Detachment worked with a forward deployed Air Station Kodiak
MH-60 to recover 20 survivors of the F/V ALASKA RANGER that
sank in the Bering Sea early that morning. The Seventeenth
Coast Guard District Commander at the time of the rescue,
RADM Arthur Brooks, declared it “One of the greatest search
and rescue efforts in modern history.”
5. During the cutter’s last year of service, CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO
completed 159 days away from homeport patrolling over 23,000
nautical miles in the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and Pacific
Ocean to enforce laws, treaties, and regulations critical to
detecting and deterring Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported
(IUU) fishing. This included an operation NORTH PACIFIC GUARD
deployment and two Alaska patrols, concluding the cutter’s long
legacy of safeguarding mariners in some of the world’s most
perilous waters.
6. The decommissioning of CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO comes 10 years
after CGC HAMILTON was the first WHEC-378 to be decommissioned
in March 2011. CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO’s decommissioning marks the
end of service for the 12-cutter HAMILTON class fleet, whose
crews proudly served the Nation for more than half a century.
The spirit of Douglas Munro will continue to live on in the
sixth National Security Cutter, CGC MUNRO (WMSL 755), the second
cutter to bear the name of the Coast Guard’s sole Medal of
Honor recipient.
7. To current and past CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO crews, Plankowners,
Shellbacks (Golden, Emerald, Horned, or otherwise), subjects
of the Golden Dragon, Blue Noses, and even Pollywogs: Well Done!
Through 49 years of service, CGC DOUGLAS MUNRO crews admirably
served the Coast Guard and the Nation. Congratulations and
Bravo Zulu!
8. ADM Karl L. Schultz, Commandant (CCG), sends.
9. Internet release is authorized.

As with all 11 of her sisters, Douglas Munro will be given a light refit and transferred to an overseas ally, namely Vietnam, which already operates the former USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722) and is slated to receive ex-USCGC Midgett (WHEC-726) this year. The 378s are all currently still afloat and in fleet use with Bangladesh, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka in addition to the Vietnamese ships.

As for her name, that of the service’s only MOH recipient, the Coast Guard commissioned the new Pascagoula-built 418-foot National Security Cutter USCGC Munro (WMSL 755) in 2017, leading to the curious state of the service having two large cutters on its active list named for the hero at the same time. 

378-foot Hamilton-class Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro (WHEC 724) and the new 418-foot Berthoff-class USCGC Munro (WMSL 755), working together off the  Hawaiian Islands, Aug. 29, 2020. USCG Photo

Of Munro and Blackjacks

The 418-foot Legend-class Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755), one of four stationed at Alameda, this week returned home after a 3-month multi-mission patrol that included both spending 37 days in the Bering Sea enforcing fisheries regulations and patrolling the maritime boundary line separating U.S. and Russian waters– interacting with a Russian Border Guard vessel in the process– then shipping down to Hawaii for two weeks of the biennial Rim of the Pacific 2020 (RIMPAC) exercises.

The nut to take from this is the fact that Munro spent a lot of her RIMPAC time practicing interoperability with Navy MH-60S Sea Hawks, a vital force multiplier that the big cutters of her class would no doubt embark in the event of a real-life DOD tasking.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 25, 2020) An MH-60S Sea Hawk Helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 hovers next to the U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class cutter USCGC Munro (WMSL 755) during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020. (U.S. Navy photo 200825-N-UM706-1593 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Madysson Anne Ritter)

As noted by the USCG:

Munro’s patrol included the embarkation of a U.S. Navy MH-60S helicopter and aircrew from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, nicknamed the “Blackjacks” during RIMPAC. Over two weeks, Munro and the Blackjacks conducted 380 flight evolutions, 55 touch and go landings, 34 vertical replenishment evolutions transferring cargo by helicopter, and multiple helicopter in flight refuels.

Now if the Navy could just add some Mk.32 ASW tubes, a towed array, and some ASuW missiles to the Legends

SINKEX Harpoon edition

The U.S. Navy’s press office released that, on 29 August off the coast of Hawaii during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020, a live-fire SINKEX was conducted against a target hulk, the ex-USS Durham (LKA-114).

An 18,000-ton Charleston-class amphibious cargo ship commissioned on May 24, 1969, Durham was decommissioned on February 25, 1994, notably seeing service during Vietnam (four campaign stars, including the Frequent Wind evacuation in 1975) and the First Gulf War. The only Navy ship to carry the name of the North Carolina city, Durham was laid up in Pearl Harbor’s Middle Loch since 2000 and found ineligible for historic preservation in 2017.

The released video shows at least three missile hits as well as what could be some other surface weapons, with the Navy non-commital on just what ordinance was expended.

Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Navy is reporting that the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Regina had the opportunity to shoot two of their RGM-84 Harpoons in RIMPAC, a rare event indeed.

Master Seaman Dan Bard, RCN

Master Seaman Dan Bard, RCN

At the same time, the Royal Australian Navy reports that the modified ANZAC (MEKO200) class frigate HMAS Stuart (FFH-153) expended one of her Harpoons on Durham.

RAN photo

RAN photo

“Simulation is a critical part of our training but there is nothing better than to conduct live-fire training,” said Royal Australian Navy Capt. Phillipa Hay, commander, RIMPAC 2020 Task Force One. “Sinking exercises are an important way to test our weapons and weapons systems in the most realistic way possible. It demonstrates as a joint force we are capable of high-end warfare.”

RIMPAC on parade

A parade of modern naval architecture underway in the bright blue of the Pacific, showing off some 23 ships and submarines!

The great formation PHOTOEX captured on the below 5~ minute video shows off the multinational navy ships and a submarine navigate in formation during a group sail off the coast of Hawaii during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020, August 21.

The video includes lots of close-ups of the individual ships:

0:09, 2:51 Republic Of Korea Navy guided-missile destroyer ROKS Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong (DDG 993)

0:14 Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Regina (FFH 334) in beautiful WWII camo

0:26 U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) 

0:32 Philippine Navy’s first guided-missile frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF 150)

0:37 RAN HMAS Stuart (FFH 153) 

0:54 Singapore Navy Formidable-class frigate RSS Supreme (FFG 73)

1:01 Royal New Zealand Navy salvage ship HMNZS Manawanui (A09)

1:07 Destroyer ROKS Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin (DDH-975)

1:12, 2:57  HMCS Winnipeg (FFH 338)

1:16 Royal Brunei Navy Darussalam-class offshore patrol vessel KDB Darulehsan (OPV 07)

1:22 Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Munro (WMSL 755)

1:25 RAN replenishment ship HMAS Sirius (O 266)

1:43 USS Jefferson City (SSN-759) (always nice to see an LA-class attack boat on the surface)

2:00, 2:14 Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force “helicopter destroyer” JS Ise (DDH 182)

2:29 RAN frigate HMAS Stuart (FFH 153)

Also seen, although not in the same detail, are the RAN frigate HMAS Arunta (FFH 151) and the guided-missile destroyer HMAS Hobart (DDG 39), the Japanese guided-missile destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG 178), French Navy Marine Nationale patrol ship FS Bougainville (A622), MSC fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187), Essex’s escorts the guided-missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and USS Dewey (DDG 105) as well as the aging Tico-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70).

There is a great gallery of these vessels at the Pacific Fleet’s social media page.

From COMPACFLT:

“Like-minded nations come together in RIMPAC in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific where all nations enjoy unfettered access to the seas and airways in accordance with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) upon which all nations’ economies depend,” said Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Ten nations, 22 ships, 1 submarine, and more than 5,300 personnel are participating in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) from August 17 to 31 at sea in the waters surrounding Hawaii. RIMPAC is a biennial exercise designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships, critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The exercise is a unique training platform designed to enhance interoperability and strategic maritime partnerships. RIMPAC 2020 is the 27th exercise in the series that began in 1971.