Photos of Second Webber Class Cutter, Richard Etheridge

The Cuttermen’s Association has published pictures of the second Webber Class FRC, Richard Etheridge, at launching. Begin here. Click “previous” three times to see the rest including an earlier side view on a transporter.

Related:  The Final Three of Fourteen Heroes

34 thoughts on “Photos of Second Webber Class Cutter, Richard Etheridge

  1. Please correct the title of the article. While it is often convention to use the name of the lead ship of a class to identify that class, this is not the case with the FRC. The correct class name is “SENTINEL Class Patrol Boat.”

    • You may be correct, but also may be fighting a losing battle. Hardly anyone uses “Hero” class for the 378’s. In fact, for the last 40 years, I believe the common way cutter classes were referred to is by their length, not the “official” designation. Maybe things will change as we go forward, but I’ll bet “Sentinel” falls by the wayside in favor of FRC.

      • It could be because the FRCs will not be named for “Sentinels”, the 378s were not all named for “Heroes”. In fact, one of the 378s, was named for someone who became anti-RCS during his later career in the U. S. Senate. But they don’t tell ya that in the history books.

        The FRC should be called the PC-Class and the PC doesn’t stand for Patrol Craft.

      • Actually in the official decision memo designating the FRC hull type as WPC…. PC does stand for Patrol Craft vs Patrol Boat. I don’t need to tell you where and what the W stands for.

    • Don’t see any reason to change the title. The convention of referring to a class by the name of the first of class completed is generally accepted not only in the US but internationally. We needed a name for the class before the name of the first ship was known and “Sentinel class” served the purpose, but, while not incorrect, is no longer required, and to insist on using that designation to the exclusion of honoring Benard C. Webber would be a mistake.

      As I see it, FRC is not the class, it is a general classification, that might include more than one class. We have already had references to FRC-A and FRC-B.

      • Noted in another post, FRC-A was the composite hull concept. FRC-B is the non-composite hull form.
        The FRC is type designated as a WPC or Coast Guard Patrol Craft. There is considerable documentation on the differences between a PB and a PC. The FRC meets the criteria for a PC and was official designated as such.

      • Think what Bill was referring to was that originally PCs were sub chasers, but the meaning has changed over time. In terms of linage, the Webber class certainly look like successors to the eighteen 165 (B) class WPCs of the early 30s, one of which became the presidential yacht Potomac.

        They are also pretty close to the Navy’s Cyclone Class PCs.

      • Chuck, I was thinking of PC as in political correctness. I know about both the WSC and the WPC. The 165s and 125s were still in service when I was. I believe the early designation for the 210s was WPC versus the WPG.

  2. I found it interesting when they suddenly laid the “hero” class name on the 378’s, since by the time they did it most were already built and named after the Secretaries of the Treasury. As I recall they first were leaning toward secretary class. Maybe someone pointed out that might be a bit confusing since there were still 327’s in use.

      • Chuck, certainly the last three were the only ones named after heroes, but when a class of ships is refrerred to one expects it to be ALL the ship’s in that class, not 25% of them. Just kinda odd.

        Example, the Secretary class was ALL 327’s.

  3. When I looked up the 180 foot WLB names you find that they were divided into three sub-class (a-c) and known variously as the Cactus class (A); Mesquite class (B) and Iris class (C). Some note the 180s as the Balsam class but Cactus’ keel was laid earlier. Notably, the 225s are all known as the Juniper class although minor differences similar to those originally in the 180s seperate hulls with hull 5 being unofficial called the start of the B class. Interestingly enough we don’t refer to them as the ‘tree and shrub’ class as they were named for but we do call the 110’s by Island class and use the A, B, C moniker without refering to the name. I’m rambling but that’s the point, doesn’t really matter, common use will in the long run become the accepted convention.

    • Matt – I agree that common use becomes accepted convention, but as a former 180 sailor, in my day at least we referred to them primarily as the A or C class 180’s. The B’s got lumped in with the C’s because they had the same boom rig. I hardly ever heard them called the Cactus, Mesquite or Iris class.

      • I put about a year and half aboard Iris. I can say there wasn’t much class there. Especially at Sara’s Lounge on 21st St. or in CSC (ret) John Weidied (sp)”s Golden Anchor. Pier 10 in Galveston wasn’t a classy place.

      • While I was aware of class and names I recall mostly hearing major ren and slep as the big discriminators. To many ways to cut it. To bad we don’t build enough ships to have flights like the USN.

  4. throughout my career, i, and everyone i knew always referred to ships by length, 82s,110s, 270s etc. usually only saw class names in print but rarely used these in conversation.

  5. While the discussions about the names of cutter classes is interesting and a lot of history has been discussed, there is a story about the FRC naming that I think all will be interested in, at least I hope so. I am going to take this discussion in a slightly different direction.

    As many of you know the first FRC was going to be named, SENTINEL, and the class was, at least in the beginning, refered to as the SENTINEL CLASS. The second cutter of the class was going to be named, GUARDIAN. Those names had been vetted and, as I understand it, all of the class would have been given superlative names within this genre.

    Then the Commandant (ADM Allen) and the MCPOCG, (MCPOCG Skip Bowen) attended the funeral for CWO Bernard C Webber USCG (ret), who was the coxswain on one of the most dramatic and noteworthy rescue missions in the history of the Coast Guard. On a 35 foot surf boat they rescued over 20 seaman off of the PENDELTON. Every member of the crew was awarded a Gold Lifesaving Medal for their heroic effforts. If there is more interest in this I will follow up with more later, but for now just accept that he and the rest of the crew of 36500 did a great job.

    At that funeral both the COMDT and the MCPOCG were obviously moved and Skip suggested to ADM Allen that the FRCs be named after enlisted heros. ADM Allen obviously agreed and now all of the cutters will not be named for superlative variants on SENTENEL, but will be named for the enlisted heros, whose “suplerlative” performance has done much to bring credit to the Coast Guard and our way of life. I can only say BZ to the idea and to the concept. This is an obvious solution to an oversight on OUR (read as “Coast Guard’s”) part in recognizing the dedication and heroic performance of our own enlisted members.

    There is only one member of the crew that was aboard 36500 that night that is still alive. I had the absolute pleasure to hear the story from him, Andy Fitzgerald, about the events of the evening of the PENDLETON rescue, and I can only say that it was totally awe inspiring. Andy was a new 3rd class engineman who did not even have the duty that night but responded to Berny’s request to join him on the SAR case.

    On this site there has been a link to the stories of Bernard C Webber and the other 13 enlisted heros that have been designated so far. I believe you can also find them on the CG Acquistion web site. If you have not looked at them please do so. It will renew your pride in your service and those who have gone before us. Some truely amazing people.

    I have also heard that the rights to a book on the PENDELTON rescue has recently been purchased by Disney and a move is expected to follow.

    So if the new 154s are called the WEBBER CLASS, or the SENTINEL CLASS, or WPCs, at least to me, is not important. The idea of naming each cutter after an ENLISTED HERO, was a great idea and I applaud all who had a part in it.

  6. “The idea of naming each cutter after an ENLISTED HERO, was a great idea and I applaud all who had a part in it.”

    I agree, but the rub is some of the namesakes are not enlisted people. Some were civilian employees of the U. S. Life Saving Service and Commerce Department well before assimilation into the Coast Guard. Some were not heroic at all.

    When I read about the proposed name “Sentinel,” I had a vision of a stationary person. Same for Guardian but only a little less so. The first actual patrol boats build for “homeland security” were those of the 1890s out of Seattle. Patrol, Guard and another who’s name I’d have to look up. They were there, not unlike today, to stem the rush of illegal Chinese immigration from Vancouver Island. Good history and continual purpose there.

    There will be a couple of the FRCs named for the Vietnam KIAs too. I am not sure that they were heroes either. They were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and not actually involved in any significant event or action to warrant hero status. I knew three of them. No cutter will be named for the only RCS seaman who dies as a POW in Chatham, England in 1813. Was his death less significant? What of the seaman who was so badly wounded in the 1819 battle between the cutter Louisiana and the pirate Le Brave that he was permanently disabled? Cutters in the past were named for most of the Tampa crew. If death in service is to be a factor then how does one choose to honor. There were about a dozen who died in a rescue from Yamacraw. The list could go on.

    I’d say look deeper into the true history of the service before popping out names to meet some political or social parameter. If the purpose is to honor heroes then let us honor them properly.

    • “There will be a couple of the FRCs named for the Vietnam KIAs too. I am not sure that they were heroes either. They were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and not actually involved in any significant event or action to warrant hero status. I knew three of them. No cutter will be named for the only RCS seaman who dies as a POW in Chatham, England in 1813. Was his death less significant? What of the seaman who was so badly wounded in the 1819 battle between the cutter Louisiana and the pirate Le Brave that he was permanently disabled? Cutters in the past were named for most of the Tampa crew. If death in service is to be a factor then how does one choose to honor. There were about a dozen who died in a rescue from Yamacraw. The list could go on.

      I’d say look deeper into the true history of the service before popping out names to meet some political or social parameter. If the purpose is to honor heroes then let us honor them properly.”

      Bill, as the saying goes, you are pissing in the wind. History is written by the victorious, and in this case, the “victors” are the those that reached the highest levels of leadership in the Coast Guard. Whether or not every “Sentinel” cutter is named after a “real” hero or not, the latter will be considered as such, simply on the whim of a few.

  7. Bill,

    You have some valid points however I said I wanted to “take this discussion in a slightly different direction” and it appears that we have changed course.

    Thanks for your input.

  8. How any discussion of naming 154’s after Enlisted Heros and not including BMC “Pat” Petterson of the CGC PT. WELCOME, escapes me. Here’s a man who the Air Force tried to kill, the Navy screwed, and the Coast Guard abandoned

    Even after his death, just before the naming board was to meet, and the facts of his actionas were fresh in everyone’s mind, he was still abandoned and the MCPOCG Bowen says maybe the CG will get around to naming one for him later. I mean all he did was out fox the atacking Air Force jets, directs to remaining crew to fight the topside fires, steer the cutter to safety, save the crew and the worthless civillan photographer Tim Paige, gounds the cutter, has the wounded removed, then later takes the cutter to it’s base for repairs.

    The Chief saved the crew and the ship. WHAT THE HELL DOES A COASTIE HAVE TO DO?

    • “The Chief saved the crew and the ship. WHAT THE HELL DOES A COASTIE HAVE TO DO?”

      Not be linked to a politically incorrect event, of course. When you look at the Coast Guard’s own web page on the Point Welcome and Chief Patterson, that he isn’t being honored defies description. Here is what his award citation says.

      “The first attack caused a blazing gasoline fire on the fantail of the cutter that threatened to engulf the entire after section of the vessel. Chief Patterson, displaying the finest qualities of bravery and leadership, took charge of the situation and using a fire hose, forced the flaming liquid over the side, thus extinguishing the fire. Even as he was accomplishing this task, he saw the second aircraft attack rip through the pilot house killing the cutter’s commanding officer and seriously wounding the executive officer and the helmsman. Unhesitatingly, and with complete disregard for his personal safety, Chief Patterson climbed to the bridge and took command. He ordered the crew to carry the wounded to the comparative safety of the below decks area. Alone on the bridge, he then maneuvered the cutter at high speed to avoid subsequent attacks. When it became apparent that he could not successfully evade the attacking aircraft, he ran the cutter close ashore, and directed the crew to abandon ship. Under his composed leadership, the wounded were wrapped in life jackets and paired with the able bodied before going over the side. Chief Patterson kept his crew calm and organized while they were in the water and until they were picked up by rescue craft.”

      He clearly deserves to be honored.

  9. CGRDCS,

    First, I am a strong supporter of naming an FRC after Chief Patterson. From your comments you must be someone that I corresponded with via email immediately after Chief Patterson’s death. I don’t have access to those emails and my memory is fuzzy regarding the timeline of the naming board meeting and Chief Patterson’s death other than I remember it was very near the same time. Having said all that… you make the statement that CG leadership somehow abandoned Chief Patterson because he was not in the first group of people that had FRC’s named after them. I can’t account for what happened decades ago but I can account for some of what happened in the last ten years.

    In 2002 Chief Patterson had a gym at TRACEN Petaluma named after him… actually he was the only person that I know of (at least in recent years) that ever had such an honor bestowed while he was still living. The reason that I know this is that in 2002 when TRACEN Petaluma wanted to name their gym after him and put forward the idea to the CG naming board it was denied because he was still living. MCPOCG Patton was the sole person on the naming board who voted in favor of the initiative. When he stepped down that summer he asked me if I would push it further. I took it to then Commandant Admiral Collins and he personally overturned the naming board and directed that the gym be named after Chief Patterson. He did this because he agreed that the word hero did not even begin to describe Chief Patterson.

    Fast forward to the naming board meeting during the Spring of 2010. As I said I don’t remember the exact timeline… (whether Chief Patterson died just before or just after) the CG Historian had brought in about a hundred write ups, award citations, etc that detailed the heroics of many well deserving Coast Guardsmen. I don’t think Chief Patterson was in that bunch of write ups simply because of the proximity of his death to the meeting. In any case I do remember writing people afterward that if they wanted to see Chief Patterson honored by naming an FRC after him they should write, email, and phone people like the CG Historian and CG Public Affairs to make sure it happened. So I guess the bottom line is that we have a lot of FRCs (up to 44) yet to be named… and I’m sure that Chief Patterson will be recognized in this way.

    Regards,

    Skip Bowen

  10. Master Chief Bowen,

    Thank You for youe reply. We disagree. As I said, “WHAT THE HELL DOES A COASTIE HAVE TO DO?”

    The fact that TRACEN PETALUMA named a gym after a then living ENLISTED HERO is laudable. WHY not honor our heros while they are alive? Their actions should pe praised not hidden until their death.
    Why Chief Patterson was not on the Historian’s list is a perfect example of what I feel is the Coast Guard’s abandonment of the Chief. The naming board if I am correct met after the Chief death. The Coast Guard has also failed to support efforts to have the Chief’s award upgraded IMHO Chief Patterson’s actions, had it not been a “friendly fire ” incident, would have warranted the Silver Star, if not the Navy Cross. Strike Two for the Coast Guard. The fact that his name was not added to the first few in the years after his death, is to me strike three for the Coast Guard.

    WHAT other CG Enlisted Hero, fought a shipboard fire while under attack, directed the wounded to be taken below, manned the bridge of the cutter for some time avoiding attacking jets, grounded the cutter, had the wounded paired with able bodied crewmembers, and taken ashore? Then after the attack , remanned the cutter and with others got it back to it’s base.

    Chief Patterson is the perfect example of what a Hero is and should be honored RIGHT NOW. I feel that the naming board should be over ruled by ADM PAPP and Chief Patterson’s name added to the FIRST FEW now, not later.

    WE may not build 44 of the 154s. I remember that there were to be 36 378’s. We built 12.

  11. “The Coast Guard has also failed to support efforts to have the Chief’s award upgraded IMHO Chief Patterson’s actions, had it not been a “friendly fire ” incident, would have warranted the Silver Star, if not the Navy Cross. Strike Two for the Coast Guard. The fact that his name was not added to the first few in the years after his death, is to me strike three for the Coast Guard.”

    Like I said earlier, Chief Patterson’s misfortune was to be a hero during an event that the military at large doesn’t want to give publicity to. Political correctness, DOD style, and the Coast Guard won’t buck the system.

  12. There are two other buildings named for living Coast Guard heroes. Jerry Goff has his name on the armory at Cape May and Larry Villarreal has his on the outboard motor school at Yorktown. Not much for two of the three enlisted Silver Star awardees from Vietnam. I understand that ENC Yered is on the list. I pushed this one too.

    We can give thanks to Skip Bowen for the extreme amount of assistance he gave me in pushing the Coast Guard into creating its own “Cross” and finally adding the Silver Star Medal to authorized awards for the Coast Guard. Why this was not done decades ago, I do not know. If the Coast Guard wants respect as a military service the not having to go to the navy for awards is a large step.

    I’d like to see Jerry Goff and Larry Villarreal be the first recipients of the Coast Guard Cross. Some may claim that too much time has passed but I disagree. The navy has awarded the Navy Cross to dozens of people fifty years after the fact. I can also show there was administrative error in the first award package for the two. Their story exceeds that of Bernie Webber because of the element that no one was shooting at the 36-footer.

    Another factor was that the two saved the lives of nine Vietnamese, not American, soldiers. However, the navy did award a Navy Cross to a Vietnamese SEAL.

    With all modesty, the Coast Guard would have probably let Chief Patterson languish in Old Town, Florida (where he really enjoyed going to the local auctions and helping local kids) had it not been for my article. The key was to get the report. The credit for its declassification goes to the Captain Larzelere. However, it remained classified SECRET for twenty-two years. Some of the Air Force reports no longer exist. They disappeared to somewhere at sometime.

    I will disagree that the Coast Guard’s top leadership writes the history. Few know only the barest of Coast Guard history. It is not a legitimate study area in the Coast Guard. I will explain why when I get around to finishing my essay on the subject. I do not see any change in the future. Official U. S. Coast Guard history does not care for commentary other than what it wants for PR purposes. Some may say the company may direct what it wants but is that an honest manner. Is it in line with the official core values?

    The question of honesty of history in military services has been a topic of discussion for a very long time. The U. S. Army struggled with the question after WWII and fortunately the general in charge wanted his historians to write the history of WWII with warts and all. He said how is the army to learn if all the negative material is hidden or dismissed. The Coast Guard has many bumps but few are recorded. Ironically, one well known one, the Hunter’s Wheel debacle (see Dr. Browning’s article) that included another screw propeller design, should have been looked at when the Coast Guard entered the Deepwater project. The two are similar in scope with largest being a group of people outside the Service saying “trust me it will work”.

    I am sure one of the new cutters will carry Pat’s name. It has too. I hope the whole crew smokes a good cigar on the day of commissioning. Pat would.

  13. “I will disagree that the Coast Guard’s top leadership writes the history.”

    “The U. S. Army struggled with the question after WWII and fortunately the general in charge wanted his historians to write the history of WWII with warts and all. He said how is the army to learn if all the negative material is hidden or dismissed. The Coast Guard has many bumps but few are recorded.”

    So what aren’t the ‘bumps” recorded? I think we all know the answer – if you want a career in the Coast Guard, you don’t shine a flashlight on those portions of the history of the Service that aren’t positive.

    I disagree with your comment that the top leadership has no role in writing the history of the Service. They might not take pen in hand, but they clearly influence what is written.

  14. “They might not take pen in hand, but they clearly influence what is written.”

    That influence only extends to in-house publications or active member publications. Of course, they really missed the mark on the poorly done book “Not Your Father’s Coast Guard.”

    They do control access to Coast Guard material. As many know, I had a six-year running FOIA request for Coast Guard material from Vietnam. This material is still being held, for some odd reason, by the Coast Guard and will not release it to the National Archives. None of it.

    The person who approved and signed the FOIA disapproval concluded that the information I sought, “is primarily of interest to you, rather than the general public, as it relates to your personal use in your historical study.” Well, duh! All historians write from personal interest. That is what drives them. If they have no interest then they do not engage in it.

    My thesis was to look at the relationship between the Navy and Coast Guard during Vietnam from an organizational and administrative point of view. This same person also proclaimed that the “general public is already aware that the Coast Guard is a military service and works with the U. S. Navy as part of its wartime mission.” He continued, “Detailed information,” as if they were dirty words, “regarding the Coast Guard’s interactions with the Navy 35 years ago [at the time of the request] would not significantly contribute to the general public’s present level of understanding of Coast Guard operations and activities.”

    So, what would raise the public’s awareness? Last April I represented Coast Guard Vietnam Veterans at a dedication of an aviation exhibit at the air museum in Birmingham, Alabama. The attendance was good with more than 150 in the audience. The larger majority of these people were unaware the Coast Guard served in Vietnam. The usual comment heard many times was “What was the Coast Guard doing in Vietnam?”

    The disapproving authority wrote, “Any general public benefit resulting from the release of records must be direct rather than derivative.” I would conclude that anything written about the Coast Guard will directly affect the general public’s knowledge of the Coast Guard and to hide is away is doing the Coast Guard a direct disservice. The good people of Birmingham had not heard of the Coast Guard’s direct participation in Vietnam; so, we may assume that there are millions of others whom have not either. I have met active duty Coast Guardsmen who did not know. There is an odd pathology in the Coast Guard. It crys that no one understands or knows of it, but its administrators put roadblocks in the paths of those trying to research and write the history.

    So, you are correct about the influence to deny access to material does have a deadening effect on the general public’s direct knowledge of the Coast Guard. Access is one reason I prefer to work in the 19th and early 20th century Service history. It is available in greater quantity than that of the last half and end of the 20th century. I have no idea what is available for the 21st century and will let those interested slog through that administrative morass.

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