USCGC Mellon Decommissioned

USCGC Mellon [WHEC 717] sits in full dress at the pier before a decommissioning ceremony in Seattle on Aug. 20, 2020. USCGC Mellon was a High Endurance Cutter homeported in Seattle and served as an asset in completing Coast Guard missions around the world for 52 years. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Clark)

The following is a news release reproduced in its entirety. One less cutter in PACAREA. Only one operational 378 remaining in the Coast Guard. 

united states coast guard

News Release

Aug. 21, 2020
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
Contact: Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs
Pacific Area online newsroom

Coast Guard decommissions cutter after 52 years of service

Coast Guard Cutter Mellon (WHEC 717) completes final patrol Coast Guard high endurance cutter decommissioned after 52 years of distinguished service
Coast Guard Cutter Mellon Decommissioning Ceremony Coast Guard Cutter Mellon Decommissioning Ceremony Coast Guard Cutter Mellon Decommissioning Ceremony
Coast Guard Cutter Mellon Decommissioning Ceremony Coast Guard Cutter Mellon Decommissioning Ceremony Coast Guard Cutter Mellon Decommissioning Ceremony

Editors’ Note: Click on images above to download full-resolution photos and videos.

SEATTLE — The Coast Guard decommissioned the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon (WHEC 717) during a ceremony Thursday held at Coast Guard Base Seattle and presided over by Rear Adm. Peter Gautier, the deputy commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area.

Mellon was one of the Coast Guard’s two remaining 378-foot Hamilton-class high endurance cutters. The fleet of high endurance cutters is being replaced by 418-foot Legend-class national security cutters, which serve as the Coast Guard’s primary long-range asset.

Commissioned in 1968, the Mellon was the third of twelve high endurance cutters built for long-range, high-endurance missions, including maritime security roles, drug interdiction, illegal immigrant interception and fisheries patrols.

“While Mellon’s service to the U.S. Coast Guard now ends, the ship will continue its legacy of good maritime governance after transfer to the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Royal Naval Force,” said Gautier. “I am incredibly confident in the Coast Guard’s future, because in Coast Guard Cutter Mellon’s crew and proud history, I see the attributes that have made our Coast Guard ‘Always Ready’ for more than two centuries.”

Mellon’s keel was laid July 25, 1966, at Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans. Mellon was launched Feb. 11, 1967, and commissioned Jan. 9, 1968. The cutter was named after Andrew W. Mellon, the 49th Secretary of the Treasury from 1921-1932.

Over the past 52 years of service, Mellon’s crews conducted a wide range of diverse operations in all parts of the world. From 1969 through 1972, Mellon’s crews participated in the Vietnam War, performing several naval gunfire support missions and patrolling Southeast Asian waters to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Vietnam. Mellon’s participation in the Vietnam War earned the ship the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation.

In the late-1970s and 1980s, the Mellon responded to numerous major search and rescue operations, including their assistance in the rescue of 510 passengers and crew members from the burning luxury liner Prinsendam in 1980.

In 1985, the Mellon entered the Fleet Renovation and Modernization program, a dry dock program designed to prolong high endurance cutters’ service life. Mellon was recommissioned March 3, 1989.

Living up to the Mellon’s motto “Primus Inter Pares,” meaning first among equals, the cutter established several Coast Guard firsts, including the first of five Hamilton-class high endurance cutters to have a Harpoon anti-ship missile system installed. Mellon was also the first, and only, Coast Guard cutter to test fire a Harpoon missile.

During Bering Sea patrols, Mellon conducted search and rescue operations and enforced laws and regulations that preserved vital Alaskan fisheries. In the Eastern Pacific, the Mellon’s boarding teams interdicted illegal narcotics trafficked over the high seas.

During the cutter’s last year of service, 20 officers and 160 enlisted crew members patrolled the Bering Sea and the Northern Pacific Ocean near Japan for more than a combined 230 days, collectively conducting 100 safety and fisheries boardings of U.S.-, Chinese-, Korean-, Japanese- and Russian-flagged fishing vessels and participating in five search-and-rescue cases.

“It has truly been an honor to serve as the final commanding officer for Coast Guard Cutter Mellon,” said Capt. Jonathan Musman. “The officers, chiefs and crew for this final year have been truly remarkable and can hold their heads high as they operated Mellon with distinction across the North Pacific on three deployments serving our nation. The reliability of the cutter is a product of years and years of properly taking care of this beloved cutter. The legacy of Mellon has been those fantastic memories that have been made and the knowledge that has passed from one shipmate to another. The future generations of cuttermen were here this last deployment learning, teaching and making their shipboard memories, and they are ready to carry on and continue the Coast Guard’s seagoing heritage.”

3 thoughts on “USCGC Mellon Decommissioned

  1. Very nice video…..During the 36 years I lived, worked and called the Seattle area home, USCGC Mellon and her sister Midgett were a frequent figure along the Seattle waterfront at peir 36. Their Mk 92 FCS was easy to pickout while driving or walking the waterfront or riding on a ferry. Sad to see her go, and sister will also follow shortly. Chuck I understand your anticipated basing plan for the WMSL/WMSM in the PACAREA, but it should would be nice to see these two unit replaced with two new units to carry on their legacy to the Seattle area. But with four new PSC destined for pier 36 plus the Healy I doubt there would be peir space for two additional WMSL or WMSM. Maybe basing opportunities could be available at Bremerton or Everett.

    • I think you are absolutely right. Chuck posted elsewhere some speculation on basing the three medium icebreakers. If they are used as a combination Arctic Science and Arctic Patrol vessel, it makes the most sense to base most/all of them in Kodiak. There, they’d be 800 miles from the Bering Sea, vs. 2000 miles to get there from Seattle. This would mean the 3 heavy icebreakers could fit nicely in the pier space at CGB Seattle, but that would not leave much room for other large cutters. Also, if the three medium icebreakers do indeed most of the Bering Sea patrol, it removes a majority of the mission for those large cutters.

  2. I served aboard Mellon from 1975-1977 under the command of Capt. Hal Olson and home ported at Sand Island, Hawaii. The cutters motto will always be “No Ka Oi.”

    I know of scores of Mellon veterans that wanted to attend the decommissioning of our beloved ship. But because of Covid, Coast Guard Command could not make accommodations to us. This was a bitter pill to swallow for us all.

    Fair winds, Mellon. You will be missed.

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