What’s in a Name

The program currently stands at 23 vessels delivered with 22 commissioned. They are being delivered at a rate of 5 per year meaning the last of 58 planned should be commissioned by the end of FY2024. 

MarineLink has a story about Bollinger and their production of the Webber class WPBs. I found this particular paragraph interesting.

Making it Personal
To help combat complacency Bollinger came up with the Sentinel Program, to both incentivize its shipbuilders and to make each vessel more meaningful to them. “Each of these vessels is named for a hero in the Coast Guard,” Remont said. For every vessel Bollinger creates a name board, a 4 x 3 board that describes the ship’s namesake with details of their heroic act. “What we’re trying to do is personalize it for our shipbuilders. It’s not just some big hunk of metal with a bunch of cables, it (the ship) is there for a real reason. We erect these sign posts at each station where the vessel is getting created, and the name board follows the ship, traveling with the boat as it moves through the production line. “Every time our shipbuilders get on that vessel they can read about the person, and understand why we are building it.” When the vessel is delivered the name board is given to the CO of the boat so that they and the crew can be reminded of the namesake, too. Following the delivery ceremony, Bollinger selects one employee from each department who exhibits the same characteristics of the vessel’s namesake, and they are publicly recognized and awarded.
This points to yet another reason the decision to name these cutters after Coast Guard heroes was a good one. I knew it would mean something to the crew, but apparently it means something to put a human face on the ships, even to the shipyard works, and perhaps to others that come in contact with the ships. It also teaches Coast Guard history in easily digestible bits.
Hopefully we will continue with this when we name the Offshore Patrol Cutters. I don’t think we could do better than name the first of class for the captain of the Revenue Cutter Hudson during the Spanish-American War, Frank H. Newcomb. There has never been a cutter named after him, and the honor is long overdue.

Frank H. Newcomb

6 thoughts on “What’s in a Name

  1. I agree but the Coast Guard doesn’t want these. They have a list of politically acceptable names many of people who never served in the Coast Guard or the USRCS.

    “It also teaches Coast Guard history in easily digestible bits.” I believe we have too many digestible bits already. What the Coast Guard needs is comprehensive, complicated historical pieces done by professionals using primary sources and not those authors who just repeat and copy what has been done by past authors.

    I’d like to see Captain John Jackson. One of the best antebellum captains. He was lost at sea from his cutter. Joseph Rice too. He was the first commissioned officer.

    • I feel that white hulls should be named after people in the RCS or USCG, or famous cutters or battles. Why are we naming FRC after lighthouse keepers etc. They have a whole class of tenders named after them.
      A ship needs to mean something. If you judged a ship by the spirit of the name alone you would think Newcomb was a battleship, while Summer and Joshua James were tugboats. Always there to help ships in distress.

  2. I like the way the USCG does not “recycle” old names ad infinitum but honors people who are not necessarily as widely known to the general public.

    In Russia, ships are typically named after famous naval officers and explorers, but sometimes it appears as if there is a limited number of names from where to choose and they end up having different types of vessels sharing the same name in service at the same time. For example, Vice Admiral Stepan Makarov (1849-1904) has been honored, either as “Admiral Makarov” or “Stepan Makarov” by at least the following ships:
    – steam-powered icebreaker (1917-1941)
    – diesel-electric icebreaker (1945-1949)
    – steam-powered icebreaker (1956-1967)
    – diesel-electric icebreaker (1975-present)
    – diesel-electric icebreaker (2017-present)
    – cruiser (1908-1922)
    – cruiser (1945-1960)
    – cruiser (1970-1992)
    – research ship (1945-1949)
    – tugboat (1967-present)

    I bet in a few years it’ll again be time to name a naval ship after Makarov…

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