Cat 4 Hurricane, No Problem, Bollinger Delivers USCGC John Scheuerman Ahead of Schedule

USCGC John Scheuerman in Key West, Florida.

Below is a lightly edited Bollinger news release. The battle in which John Scheuerman lost his life, was the Invasion of Solerno. If you read the link I provided, you can see that the Luftwaffe response was so intense, it caused the naval task force commander shift his flag to a less conspicuous ship, USS Biscayne, a ship that would later serve as USCGC Dexter.


LOCKPORT, La., – (October 21, 2021) – Bollinger Shipyards LLC (“Bollinger”) has delivered the newest Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter (“FRC”), the USCGC John Scheuerman, to the U.S. Coast Guard in Key West, Florida nearly one week ahead of schedule despite a three week shutdown due to the significant damage sustained to Bollinger’s facilities during Hurricane Ida. The storm made landfall in late August near Port Fourchon, Louisiana as a powerful Category 4 storm. Bollinger’s facilities in Port Fourchon, Lockport, Houma and Larose suffered significant damage as a result of Hurricane Ida, which tied with last year’s Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane of 1856 as the strongest on record in Louisiana.

“While every delivery is meaningful, being able to deliver this vessel nearly a week early despite everything our crew has faced over the past month is nothing short of remarkable,” said Bollinger President & CEO Ben Bordelon. “We had folks who lost everything in that storm. Our yard where we build the FRCs took a beating and was shuttered for three weeks while we rebuilt. This vessel and this delivery is a win our folks really needed and it reflects the resilience, commitment and tenacity of the 650 skilled men and women that built it.”

On September 24th, following an extensive multi‐week recovery and rebuilding effort, Bollinger welcomed employees back to all 11 of its facilities across Louisiana. Bollinger’s Lockport facility is home to the FRC program, which directly supports 650 jobs. The USCGC John Scheuerman departed Lockport on Monday, October 11th for Bollinger’s Fourchon facility where it performed a shakedown excercise prior to dry docking for final inspection in preparation of its delivery. The Cutter departed Fourchon for Key West, FL on Sunday, October 17th. The USCGC John Scheuerman is the 169th vessel Bollinger has delivered to the U.S. Coast Guard over a 35-year period and the 46th FRC delivered under the current program. The USCGC John Scheuerman is the fifth of six FRCs to be home-ported in Manama, Bahrain, which will replace the aging 110’ Island Class Patrol Boats, built by Bollinger Shipyards 30 years ago, supporting the Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest overseas presence outside the United States.

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz has previously lauded the “enhanced seakeeping capabilities” of the PATFORSWA-bound FRCs, saying the ships are going to be “game changing” in their new theater of operations. Last week, at the commissioning ceremony for the USCGC Emlen Tunnell—another Bahrain-based FRC—Adm. Schultz noted that these ships will “conduct maritime security operations, theater cooperation efforts, and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities to promote security and stability in the region, as well as thwart the increasingly aggressive and dangerous maritime activities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.” He went on to say that these FRCs are “a perfect complement to the capabilities of both the Navy and Marine Corps. United, we bring a range of maritime capabilities to employ across the cooperation-competition-lethality continuum.”

PATFORSWA is composed of six cutters, shoreside support personnel, and the Maritime Engagement Team. The unit’s mission is to train, organize, equip, support and deploy combat-ready Coast Guard Forces in support of U.S. Central Command and national security objectives. PATFORSWA works with Naval Forces Central Command in furthering their goals to conduct persistent maritime operations to forward U.S. interests, deter and counter disruptive countries, defeat violent extremism and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities in order to promote a secure maritime environment.

Each FRC is named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished themselves in the line of duty. John Scheuerman, Seaman First Class, United States Coast Guard Reserve was posthumously presented the Silver Star Medal for service as set forth in the following citation:  “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving on board the U.S.S. LCI (L) 319 during the amphibious invasion of Italy, September 9, 1943.  Observing an enemy fighter plane diving in for a strafing attack as his vessel approached the assault beaches in the Gulf of Salerno, SCHEUERMAN unhesitatingly manned his battle station at an exposed antiaircraft gun and, with cool courage and aggressive determination, exerted every effort to direct accurate gunfire against the hostile aircraft.  Although mortally wounded before he could deliver effective fire, he remained steadfast at his post in the face of imminent death, thereby contributing materially to the protection of his ship against further attack.  SCHEUERMAN’s fearless action, great personal valor and selfless devotion to duty under extremely perilous conditions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” Scheuerman also posthumously received the Purple Heart Medal.

After 79 Years, Finding a Final Resting Place at the Coast Guard Academy

Lt. Crotty

We seem to be half masting the flag a lot lately, but this one has greater than the usual significance. Please read his story using the link below. Earlier post here.

united states coast guard

R 141500Z OCT 21
ALCOAST 380/21
SSIC 5060
A. U.S. Coast Guard Regulations 1992, COMDTINST M5000.3B
1. By order of the Commandant and IAW REF (A), the National
Ensign shall be flown at half mast from sunrise until sunset
on Friday, 15 October 2021, in honor of LT Thomas James Eugene
“Jimmy” Crotty, an American and Coast Guard hero.
2. The National Ensign shall be flown at half mast on all
Coast Guard buildings, grounds, and vessels not underway.
3. As announced in REF (B), LT Thomas James Eugene “Jimmy”
Crotty, USCG, died as a prisoner of war of the Japanese at
the Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Camp on 19 July 1942. He was
buried in a common grave along with all those who died that
day. On 10 September 2019, as part of an exhaustive effort
by DoD to bring every service member home, LT Crotty was
positively identified from the remains exhumed in early 2018.
LT Crotty was returned home with honors on 01 November 2019
to Buffalo, NY.
4. LT Crotty will have his final inurnment on Friday,
15 October 2021, at the United States Coast Guard Academy
Columbarium in New London, CT, at 1400.
5. LT Crotty’s biography and additional information can be
found at:
(Copy and Paste URL Below into Browser)

6. RADM Eric C. Jones, Assistant Commandant for Human Resources
(CG-1), sends.
7. Internet release is authorized.

“Coast Guard, NOAA to hold event to announce the discovery of U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear and arrival of U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker in Boston” –D1

Appearing very different from its last Greenland visit in 1884, the USS Bear returned in 1944. Unlike in 1884, the Bear relied on a Coast Guard crew during World War II. As part of the Greenland Patrol, it cruised Greenland’s waters and, in October 1941, brought home the German trawler Buskø, the first enemy vessel captured by the U.S. in WWII. (Coast Guard photo)

An interesting news release from CCGD1 below. While looking for an appropriate photo, I found an earlier article, “Hunting for Bear, the Search for the Coast Guard’s Most Iconic Vessel,” by MARK A. SNELL, PH.D., U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, beginning on page 56 of the Spring 2019 issue of Proceedings of the Marine Safety and Security Council. This is the way it ends.

A few years ago, an aspiring author posted an ode about the loss of the Bear on a website known as “Ghost Stories for Lovers.” Her thoughts on the final moments of the iconic ship are an apt denouement both for the sinking of the Bear and the conclusion of this article:

“I imagine her exhaustion. I imagine the familiar rush of waves lapping against her parched skin, reawakening every memory of every youthful adventure with such
a flood of overwhelming intensity that the strength of the wind and the salt and the biting northern air that she once drank now aches. Her arthritic timbers swell and throb as they move through the rough ocean. The towline grows taut, too taut, as she struggles to keep pace with the smaller boat. Did she welcome the final gale that snapped it, I wonder, that final push of force that plunged her mast deep into her hull, into her heart, releasing nearly a century’s worth of man’s insatiable hope from her shattered bones and back into the sea from which he crawled?

“She didn’t take anyone down with her. The two sailors who were with her when it happened shivered and gaped from the rails of the tugboat that rescued them as she slipped further into the black water. Slowly. Silently. As if she were never there…”

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 1st District Northeast

Media Availability: Coast Guard, NOAA to hold event to announce the discovery of U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear and arrival of U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker in Boston

Editors’ Note: Media interested in attending are requested to RSVP at 617-223-8515 or by 9:30 a.m., Oct. 13, 2021 and should arrive no later than 2:45 p.m. and must follow proper CDC guidelines for COVID-19.

BOSTON—The Coast Guard is scheduled to hold an event to discuss the discovery of the wreckage of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear and the arrival of the USCGC Healy (WAGB  20) following its recent transit of the Arctic’s Northwest Passage.

WHO: Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander, Capt. Kenneth Boda, USCGC Healy commanding officer, Coast Guard historians and representatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

WHAT: The Coast Guard is announcing the findings of the wreckage of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear, a vessel of historical significance to the Arctic, and discussing the arrival of the USCGC Healy, one of the Service’s polar icebreakers.

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

WHERE: Boston Cruise Ship Terminal, 1 Black Falcon Ave. Boston, MA 02210

The USRC Bear was built in Scotland in 1874 as a steamer ship and purchased by the U.S. government in 1884 for service in the U.S. Navy as part of the rescue fleet for the Greely Expedition to the Arctic, which gave world-wide acclaim as the vessel that rescued the few survivors of that disastrous expedition. In 1885, the Bear was transferred from the Treasury Department for service in the Arctic as a Revenue Cutter and for 41 years it patrolled the Arctic performing search and rescue, law enforcement operations, conducting censuses of people and ships, recording geological and astronomical information, recording tides and escort whaling ships. Between 1886-1895, the captain of Bear was “Hell Roaring Mike” Healy. The USCGC Healy was commissioned in 1999 and named in his honor. During World War II, the Bear served during the Greenland Patrols and participated in the capture of a German spy vessel, the trawler Buskoe. It was decommissioned in 1944 and was lost at sea while being towed in 1963.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy crew, following in the Bear’s tradition of Arctic service, recently completed a transit of the Arctic Northwest Passage. Healy is one of the Coast Guard’s polar-capable icebreakers and operates as a multi-mission vessel to protect American interests in the Arctic region.

For nearly two decades, NOAA Ocean Exploration, the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Maritime Heritage Program, the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development center, and a number of academic research partners have been engaged in a search for the final resting place of U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear.

For more information, please visit NOAA’s Ocean Exploration website.

Looking Back on the Last 30 Years

USCGC Mellon seen here launching a Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile in 1990.

The Coast Guard took full advantage of the “peace dividend” when the Soviet Union collapsed back in 1991 (the year I retired). All ASW equipment was removed. That was 30 years ago, so virtually every active duty Coast Guardsman has never been in the service when it had a defined war time mission.

The Chinese naval build up has changed the circumstance that made that shedding of capabilities logical.
The Navy decommissioned many ships. The Coast Guard retained its ships but no longer saw a need for Harpoon, sonar, torpedo tubes, etc.
For some reason they did retain Electronic Warfare capability and CIWS. I am not sure that makes sense unless there is a plan to reintroduce warfare capabilities.
The National Security Cutters are really to well equipped and more capable than their peacetime missions would require. Like the down graded post FRAM 378s, the NSCs have ESM/ECM, a first rate fire control system, helicopter support facilities that exceed our normal requirements, a  Phalanx CIWS, and a speed of over 25 knots. Those capabilities only make sense if additional upgrades are expected in time of war. We know that the NSCs were designed to accept 12 Mk56 VLS, but that alone does not make sense because that would only improve its defensive capabilities.
I sometime get the feeling we want our ships to look like warships, but we don’t really care if they are effective warships.
You don’t need to defend against cruise missile unless you are engaged in a warfare mission.
We do seem to have embraced Gray Zone missions, including Cyber. That is all to the good, but I still don’t see that we are actively engaged in “Defense Readiness,” which, to me means planning for how we can help in an existential conflict with a near peer adversary, specifically now China and/or Russia.
I also don’t see that we have fully embraced the counter-terrorism mission either, since we don’t have what it takes to deal with a terrorist attack on a US port using a medium to large size vessel. Our countermeasures are just too week. We are barely equipped to take on terrorist using personal watercraft.
Modular sensors and weapons and coordination with the Navy Reserve appear to offer a way to prepare at minimal day to day cost, but we don’t seem to be exploiting these options. Our reservist do deploy on military missions, but are we really prepared to reorder our mission priorities and assume a significant role in naval warfare? Do we have plans as to how we will upgrade our ships? How we will train operators of equipment we don’t currently have?
Shortly before I retired the US and its allies defeated the Soviet Union without going to war, because we were ready to fight. At that time we knew the Coast Guard’s missions would include escorting convoys to Europe. Since then we have had three decades without a significant naval challenge, but that has ended. It is time to embrace the fact that the Coast Guard is a military service at all times and find our place in the plans for any future struggle.


1970 – editorial cartoon run during the Kudirka Incident. Credit New York Times

A recent ALCOAST restates the Sovereign Immunity Policy with regard to Coast Guard vessels and aircraft. This is particularly relevant for units operating in the Persian Gulf and South China Sea, but it applies everywhere.

Since we operate mostly in US waters or nearby high seas, application may seem unlikely to most, but this is not just academic. For a real world example that caused the Coast Guard great embarrassment, let’s not forget the Simonas “Simas” Kudirka incident.

united states coast guard

R 061626Z OCT 21
ALCOAST 370/21
SSIC 3128
A. U.S. Navy Sovereign Immunity Policy, NAVADMIN 165/21
B. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
C. The Commanders Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations,
COMDTPUB P5800.7 (series)
D. United States Coast Guard Regulations 1992, COMDTINST M5000.3
E. Foreign Port Calls, COMDTINST 3128.1 (series)
1. This ALCOAST restates U.S. Coast Guard sovereign immunity
policy. The policies reflected in this document are based on
longstanding principles of international law. Accommodating
foreign State demands that undermine these policies not only erodes
protections in that particular situation but also risks establishing
precedent that may have long-term and wide-ranging negative effects.
Therefore, commanders, commanding officers, officers-in-charge, and
aircraft commanders must adhere to the policies outlined in this
message. This message echoes policies outlined in REF (A), U.S.
Navy’s sovereign immunity policy, given the sovereign immune status
shared by vessel and aircraft of both services.
2. Under customary international law, and consistent with REFs
(A)-(E), manned and unmanned vessels and aircraft owned or
operated by a State, and used, for the time being, only for
government non-commercial service, are entitled to sovereign
immunity. Accordingly, such vessels and aircraft, wherever located,
are immune from arrest, search, and inspection by foreign
authorities, including inspections by or under the supervision of a
competent authority of areas, baggage, containers, conveyances,
facilities, goods or postal parcels, and relevant data and
documentation thereof for most purposes. Moreover, such vessels and
aircraft are exempt from certain foreign taxes, duties, or fees, as
well as foreign regulations that require flying a foreign State’s
flag or setting a compulsory pilotage requirement. Customary
international law further grants to commanding officers, officers-
in-charge, aircraft commanders, and masters the right to protect the
identity of personnel, stores, weapons, and other property aboard a
sovereign immune vessel or aircraft, as well as exclusive control
over any person aboard a sovereign immune vessel or aircraft
concerning acts performed aboard.
3. Although immune from arrest by foreign authorities, U.S. Coast
Guard vessels and aircraft shall comply with host country
requirements regarding traffic control, health, customs, and
immigration, to the extent such requirements do not contravene U.S.
Coast Guard sovereign immunity policy. In many instances, this
message and its references dictate how the U.S. Coast Guard complies
with such requirements. Noncompliance with any such requirement may
be subject to diplomatic complaint or host country orders to leave
its internal waters, territorial sea, or national airspace, but does
not change this policy’s requirements. Because adhering to this
policy may result in a country’s refusal or expulsion of an aircraft
or vessel, commanders must work with their legal counsel and embassy
teams early to understand port and airfield requirements including
international agreements or other arrangements which may apply.
4. Asserting sovereign immunity is a privilege of the U.S.
Government. Thus, waiver is not within the discretion of a
officer, officer-in-charge, or aircraft commander. An officer
exercising Tactical Control (TACON) is delegated authority to
interpret sovereign immunity policy consistent with overarching U.S.
Government policies and shall be notified by lower echelons via the
chain-of-command regarding challenges to asserting sovereign
immunity that cannot be resolved in favor of the policies set forth
in this message. Where TACON can execute this policy without
conflict with this message, no waiver is required. However, except
as provided herein, any action that may constitute a waiver or
potential waiver of sovereign immunity must be coordinated with
COMDT (CG-5R) in advance.
5. It is U.S. Government policy to assert full sovereign immunity
for U.S. Coast Guard manned and unmanned vessels, including cutters
and small boats, and aircraft. In addition to the general
privileges and obligations discussed in paragraphs 2 and 3 of this
message, which apply in full, the following guidance also applies:
   a. Searches, Inspections, and Requests for Information.
Per REF (D), paragraphs 4-1-28, and 4-2-10, and REF (E), commanding
officers, officers-in-charge, and aircraft commanders must not
permit a vessel or aircraft under their command to be searched or
inspected on any pretense whatsoever by foreign authorities or
organizations, nor permit any person within their vessel or
aircraft’s confines to be removed by foreign authorities. U.S.
authorities may themselves conduct consent, command authorized, or
other lawful searches or inspections and preserve evidence without
foreign officials being present, but evidence seized must not be
turned over to foreign authorities absent specific direction by
higher authority. Commanding officers, officers-in-charge, and
aircraft commanders must not provide vessel or aircraft documents
or other vessel- or aircraft-specific information (excluding a
vessel’s public characteristics for purposes of appropriate pilotage
or berthing) to foreign authorities and organizations without the
approval of higher authority via the chain-of-command.
   b. Taxes and Fees. Payment of fines or taxes is prohibited
regardless of reasons offered for imposition. Appropriate charges
for pilots, tugboats, sewer, water, power and other required goods
or services may be paid.
     (1) Unless there is an international agreement to the
contrary, commanding officers, and officers-in-charge must refuse
to pay any tax or revenue-generating fee imposed on a U.S. Coast
Guard vessel or aircraft by a foreign sovereign. These taxes,
including port taxes, port tariffs, port tolls, port security
surcharges, port dockage fees, and other similar taxes or fees, are
impermissible. Commanding officers and officers-in-charge may pay
reasonable charges for goods and services requested and received,
less taxes and similar charges. If requested to pay an
impermissible tax or fee, commanding officers and officers-in-charge
should request an itemized list of all charges, pay reasonable
charges for goods and services requested and received, and explain
that under customary international law, sovereign immune vessels are
exempt from foreign taxes and fees.
     (2) If port authorities directly insist on payment of an
impermissible tax or fee, commanding officers and officers-in-charge
should seek assistance from higher authority and U.S. Embassy via
the chain-of-command. Whether the U.S. Coast Guard will directly
pay an impermissible tax or fee is a matter of overarching U.S.
Government policy. This decision may be based on other concerns
such as operational needs, contracting principles, and potential
fiscal liability.
     (3) If such taxes or fees are levied indirectly through a
Husbanding Service Provider (HSP) as part of a foreign fixed price
contract, such tax or fee may be paid as part of the contract price.
   c. Crew Lists
     (1) Commanding officers and officers-in-charge must not
provide a list of crew members (military and/or nonmilitary) or
passengers aboard a vessel to foreign officials under any
circumstances. In response to a crew list request, the host nation
should be informed that the United States exempts foreign sovereign
immune vessels visiting the United States from the requirement to
provide crew lists in accordance with (IAW) the same sovereign
immunity principles claimed by United States sovereign immune
vessels. When a host country maintains a demand for a crew members
list as a condition of entry into a port or to satisfy local
immigration officials upon arrival, seek guidance from higher
authority via the chain-of-command.
     (2) Absent an international agreement, a commanding officer
or officer-in-charge of a vessel may provide information about
personnel going ashore for a temporary time and for unofficial
purposes (e.g. liberty) to comply with a host country’s immigration
laws. However, if information is provided, it should include the
minimum amount of information required to comply with the host
country’s laws, and include no more than names (without rank), place
of birth, date of birth, and sex. A commanding officer should not
provide foreign officials with other sensitive or personal
information, such as social security numbers, rank, addresses, or
other specific information. Such liberty lists are not the same as
crew lists, even though they may contain the names of all
   d. Quarantine and Health Information Requirements
     (1) Under REFs (D) and (E), commanding officers, officers-
in-charge, and aircraft commanders must comply with all domestic or
foreign State quarantine regulations for the port within which the
vessel is located that do not contravene this sovereign immunity
     (2) IAW REFs (C) and (D), while commanding officers,
officers-in-charge, and aircraft commanders must not permit
inspection of their vessel or aircraft, they must afford every
other assistance to health officials, U.S. or foreign, and must
give all information required, insofar as permitted by military
necessity and security requirements. To avoid restrictions imposed
by quarantine regulations, the commanding officer should request
free pratique (clearance granted a ship to proceed into a port after
compliance with health or quarantine regulations) IAW that port’s
sailing directions.
   e. Flying Foreign State Flags. While sovereign immune vessels
are exempt from foreign regulations that require flying a foreign
State flag, U.S. Coast Guard sovereign immune vessels may fly
State flags to render honors IAW REF (D). Regional practices to
display marks of respect for host nations vary, and commanding
officers and officers-in-charge must consult with the operational
chain-of-command, theater- and fleet-specific guidance, and local
embassies for further guidance if host nation officials raise the
   f. Environmental Mishaps in Foreign Waters. If, after an oil
or hazardous substance spill in foreign territorial or internal
waters, a commanding officer or officer-in-charge determines foreign
authorities need more information to properly respond to the spill
and prevent serious environmental damage, the commanding officer or
officer-in-charge may release information similar to that releasable
to U.S. authorities. Before releasing spill-related information to
foreign authorities, the commanding officer or officer-in-charge
must seek guidance from higher authority via the chain-of-command
and, if release is deemed appropriate, inform the foreign
authorities that the ship or vessel is a sovereign immune vessel of
the United States and that spill-related information is being
voluntarily provided to help minimize environmental damage.
   g. Compulsory Pilotage. Article 4-2-3 of REF (D) authorizes
commanding officers and officers-in-charge of vessels to employ
pilots when, in the commanding officer’s or officer-in-charge’s
judgement, such employment is necessary. Inherent in such
discretion is the authority to refuse use of a pilot or to disregard
such pilot’s advice regarding a vessel’s safe navigation.
Accordingly, U.S. vessels may, but are not required to, employ
pilots as prudent. Except as provided in article 4-2-4 of REF (D),
commanding officers may, but are not required to, allow a pilot
onboard. If a nation sets pilot employment as a condition for
entering port or transiting their waters contrary to REF (D),
commanding officers must inform foreign authorities that the ship
or vessel is a sovereign immune vessel of the United States and
that pilotage services are being accepted voluntarily and not as
a condition of entry.
6. Commanders, commanding officers, officers-in-charge, and
aircraft commanders must adhere to the policies outlined in this
message and seek guidance from higher authority via the chain of
command in the event of ambiguity or prior to taking any action
that might constitute a waiver of sovereign immunity.
7. POC: CDR J. R. Styron, COMDT (CG-LMI-R), phone (202) 372-3798,
or by global email.
8. RDML Scott R. Clendenin, Assistant Commandant for Response Policy
(CG-5R), sends.
9. Internet release is authorized.

“Taming Atalanta” –US Naval Institute, Naval History Magazine

Rum Runner Atalanta and Coast Guard Destroyer Ericsson (CG-5)

The US Naval Institute has a nice piece of Coast Guard history available from the latest Naval History magazine. It concerns a very fast, armored rum runner, and how it was ultimately brought to heal.

There is also a story in the same issue of Naval History about Alaska Patrol fisheries enforcement by USCGC Confidence in the 1970s, probably 1975-77. I had left Confidence in 1974.

USCGC Confidence (WMEC619) on Alaska Patrol. Photo by Commander Tom Martin, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)

Two stories from the “Old Days.”

The Hamilton Class 378 foot WHECs, an Appreciation

USCGC Douglas Munro (WHEC-724)

The Navy League’s magazine, Seapower, reports that the last of the US Coast Guard’s Hamilton class 378 foot WHECs, Douglas Munro, will be decommissioned at the end of the month.

The designers of these ships certainly made them aesthetically pleasing, and the preliminary design work was done in house by Coast Guard engineers.

The 378s were the crowning achievement of a recapitalization program begun in the late 1950s that resulted in the 82 foot Point class patrol boats, the 210 foot Reliance class WMECs, and ultimately the 378 foot Hamilton class WHECs, all built to preliminary designs developed in house.

Between October 1960 and August 1970 the Coast Guard commissioned 79 Point class WPBs. The Point class followed closely on the heals of the 95 foot WPB, the last of which had been commissioned in July 1959.

Between June 1964 and July 1969 we commissioned 16 Reliance class WMECs. Between February 1967 and March 1972 we commissioned 12 Hamilton class WHECs.

So between Oct. 1960 and March 1972 the Coast Guard commissioned 107 new patrol cutters. In 1967 alone we commissioned 17 Point class WPB. 1968 was the peak year for the larger cutters. In that year the Coast Guard commissioned four 378s and seven 210s. (Makes it clear we should be able to complete more than two Offshore Patrol Cutters per year, doesn’t it?)

USCGC Gallatin WHEC -721 (378), USCGC Rockaway WHEC-377 (311), and USCGC Spencer WHEC-36 (327)

When the 378s were built, the WHEC designation had just recently been coined. 36 ships were classed as WHECs, six 327 foot 2,656 ton full load Secretary class cutters, 18 Casco class 311 foot 2,529 ton cutters, and 12 Owasco class 255 foot 1,978 ton cutters. The plan was to build 36 of Hamilton class to replace all of them, but the termination of the Ocean Station program resulted in only twelve being built. The 378s were 15 to 54% larger than the ships they replaced at 3,050 tons full load, and they were a much more advanced design.

CODOG Propulsion:

The COmbined Diesel or Gas turbine (CODOG) propulsion was a bold choice in the early 1960s. The Royal Navy had commissioned their first combatants with gas turbines (combined with steam) in 1961  The US Navy would not complete their first gas turbine powered Perry class frigate until 1977. (I think you can see the influence of the Hamilton class in the design of the Perry class frigates.) A pair of Danish Frigates, the Peder Skram class, would also use the same FT-4 turbines, but the first of that class was laid down only four months before Hamilton, so it was more contemporary than predecessor. 49 months after Hamilton was laid down, the Canadian laid down the first of the Iroquois class destroyers that used more powerful versions of the FT-4 in a COGOG arrangement with smaller 7500 HP Allison gas turbines. We would see the FT-4 gas turbine again in the Polar class icebreakers beginning in 1976.

The Coast Guard had done some experimentation with gas turbines. As built, USCGC Point Thatcher (WPB-82314), commissioned in Sept. 1961, was equipped with controllable pitch props and two 1000 HP gas turbines (later replaced by two 800 HP diesels that would became standard in the class). The first five 210 foot cutters of the Reliance class, commissioned June 1964 to February 1966, had two 1,000 HP gas turbines in addition to two 1,500 HP diesels, that they retained until they received major renovations 1985-1990.

The Hamilton Class’s Navy contemporaries were the 3,371 ton full load Garcia and 4,066 ton Knox class frigates (classified as Destroyer Escorts until 1975). Those ships were larger and used high temperature and pressure steam propulsion to produce 35,000 HP (compared to 36,000 for the 378s on their turbines). The frigates used only a single shaft for a speed 27 knots. The Hamiltons’ turbines gave them a two knot speed advantage, while their diesels gave them more than double the range. Two shafts gave them a greater degree of redundancy.

ASW Capability: 

While the contemporary Garcia and Knox class were much better equipped for ASW, the newly commissioned 378s, with their AN/SQS-38 sonar and helicopter deck were not only larger and faster, but also compared favorably as ASW ships to all but the newest Navy Destroyer Escorts (those completed 1963 and later).

CGC DALLAS (WHEC-716)… Vietnam… During seven combat patrols off the coast of Vietnam, Dallas undertook 161 gunfire support missions involving 7,665 rounds of her 5-inch ammunition. This resulted in 58 sampans destroyed and 29 Viet Cong supply routes, bases, camps, or rest areas damaged or destroyed. Her 5-inch (127 mm) guns made her very valuable to the naval missions in the area. Original 35mm Slide shared by Capt W.F. Guy, USCG… Circa May 1970.

Electronic Warfare, Gun and Fire Control: 

The 378s introduced the post WWII Coast Guard to electronic warfare with the WLR-1.

Unlike the earlier WHECs, the 378s were completed with the Mk56 gun firecontrol system which was much more capable than the short to medium range Mk52 used by the older cutters. Their 5″/38s proved useful when deployed to Vietnam. Below is quoted from Wikipedia’s description of USCGC Morgenthau‘s Vietnam deployment.

From records compiled by then-Lieutenant Eugene N. Tulich, Commander, US Coast Guard (Ret), Morgenthaus Vietnam numbers included: Miles cruised – 38,029 nautical miles (70,430 km; 43,763 mi); Percentage time underway – 72.8%; Junks/sampans detected/inspected/boarded – 2383/627/63; Enemy confirmed killed in action (KIA) 14; Structures destroyed/damaged – 32/37; Bunkers destroyed/damaged – 12/3; Waterborne craft destroyed/damaged – 7/3; Naval Gunfire Support Missions (NGFS) – 19; MEDCAPS (Medical Civic Action Program) – 25; Patients treated – 2676.


During the late 1980s the Reagan administration was pushing for a 600 ship Navy. The FRAM of the Hamilton class was one of the small ways the Coast Guard played a part in the competition that may have driven the Soviet Union into dissolution.

While the 378s would still might not have been first class fighting units, electronic warfare was brought up to date, a newer air search radar, a modern gun, and firecontrol was installed. Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles were add along with a Close in Weapon System (CIWS), a hangar was added and the ships were equipped to operate with a LAMPs I ASW helicopters.

Ultimately, following the collapse of the threat from the Soviet Union, the ASW equipment and anti-ship cruise missile were removed, but benefits of modernization, remained.

The After Life: 

These ships are now 49 to 54 years old and, thanks to the hard work of their crews over a half century, they are still doing good work, no longer for the US Coast Guard, but for Navies and Coast Guards around the world. Virtually all of their contemporaries have gone to the ship breakers, as have many younger ships.

BRP Andrés Bonifacio (FF-17), the former USCGC Boutwell.

  • Hamilton (715), Dallas (716), and Boutwell (719) serve in the Philippine Navy.
  • Mellon (717) serves in the Bahrain Naval Force
  • Chase (718) and Gallatin (721) serve in the Nigerian Navy
  • Sherman (720) serves in the Sri Lanka Navy
  • Morgenthau (722), Midgett (726), and Munro (724) serve or will serve in the Vietnam Coast Guard
  • Rush (723) and Jarvis (725) are in the Bangladeshi Navy

The Vietnam Coast Guard patrol vessel CSB-8020, formerly the US Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau (Photo: Vietnam Coast Guard)