USCG Receives FRC Richard Etheridge

USCG Receives FRC Richard Etheridge

The Richard Etheridge, the second vessel in the Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter (FRC) recapitalization project that was built by Bollinger Shipyards, was officially delivered to the Coast Guard May 26 in Key West, Fla. after transiting from Lockport, La. Richard Etheridge will be homeported alongside the lead FRC, Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber, in Miami.

Etheridge will be commissioned into service in Port Everglades, Fla. on Aug. 3, 2012. The Coast Guard plans to acquire 58 FRCs to replace the service’s 110-foot Island Class fleet. The cutters of the Island Class fleet range in age from 20 to 27 years old.

The Coast Guard currently expects to take delivery of one cutter per quarter. The first six FRCs will be stationed in Miami to support operations in the 7th Coast Guard District, an area ranging from the South Carolina coast to the Caribbean, consisting of 1.8 million square nautical miles of ocean.

The Sentinel-class FRC project is representative of the Coast Guard’s disciplined approach to rebuild its surface fleet. The FRC uses a proven, in-service parent craft design based on the Damen Stan Patrol Boat 4708. It has a flank speed of 28 knots and a 2,500 hours per year operational employment target. It uses state-of-the-market command, control, communications and computer technology interoperable with the Coast Guard’s existing and future assets, as well as Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense assets. The cutter also meets American Bureau of Shipping design, build and classification standards.

Each FRC will be named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished him or herself in the line of duty. In 1880, Richard Etheridge became the first African-American to command a Life-Saving station when he was assigned to the Pea Island Life-Saving Station in North Carolina. Under his leadership, the Pea Island station became known as, “one of the tautest on the Carolina Coast.” In 1896, Etheridge led the Pea Island crew in a rescue operation that saved the entire crew of the schooner E.S. Newman, which had become grounded in a treacherous storm. Etheridge and the Pea Island crew were posthumously awarded the Coast Guard’s Gold Lifesaving Medal for this rescue in 1996.

Naval Today Staff, June 5, 2012; Image: USCG