On Wednesday, several of us from CNAS had an opportunity to visit the Coast Guard’s 154ft Bernard C. Webber Fast Response Cutter (FRC), the first of the newest Sentinel class FRCs that are slated to replace the aging 110ft Island Class cutters. This new variant will serve to fill an endurance gap in the Coast Guard’s current patrol boat fleet by being able to perform near the coast or to deploy up to five days out at sea to conduct its missions. The missions set is diverse and includes marine environmental protection, fishery patrols, search and rescue, as well as law enforcement functions, such drug, arms and illegal migrant interdiction.
One of the key differences between the 110ft and 154ft Fast Response Cutters is the time and effort to deploy the small boats from the cutters, which is really a core function of the FRC – that is, deploying a boarding crew to perform the missions listed above. Whereas a 110ft cutter has to deploy the small boat from the deck of the cutter using a crane and many members of the crew, the 154ft cutter employs a stern-launching system where the small boat sits in a well at the stern of the ship and can be deployed by a single crew member if necessary. What is more, where the 110s took up to 20 minutes to deploy the small boats, the 154s are capable of doing it in less than a minute. This will save lives when the cutter is deployed in a search and rescue mission at sea or after a severe storm near the coast.
Special thanks to our Coast Guard Fellow Commander Shannon Gilreath for arranging this awesome visit.
Photo: The Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber off the coast of Miami in February 2012. Courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.