U.S. Coast Guard Commissions Three Fast Response Cutters in Guam
In a rare triple-commission ceremony, the U.S. Coast Guard highlighted its commitment to operations in the Oceania region. The three new cutters, which began arriving last fall, are all stationed homeport at Coast Guard Forces Micronesia Sector Guam. They represent a significant increase in the regional force.
The Coast Guard Cutters Myrtle Hazard, Oliver Henry, and Frederick Hatch were commissioned on July 29 in a ceremony presided over by Adm. Karl Schultz, the Coast Guard’s commandant. Each of the cutters is named after a Coast Guard enlistee and are equipped with advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems. With a length of 154 feet, they reach speeds of over 28-knots and have a greater range and endurance than other vessels. They can cover a distance of 2,500 nautical miles over a five-day patrol. They are armed with a stabilized 25-mm machine gun mount and four crew-served .50-caliber machine guns.
“The triple commissioning of Coast Guard Cutters signals our dedication to regional partners and the growing maritime demand in the region,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander, Coast Guard Forces Micronesia Sector Guam. “It was an honor to celebrate this historic event with the crews, families, and sponsors for each cutters’ namesake.”
Guam Fast response cutter dedication (US Coast Guard photo USCG Petty Officer 2nd Class Travis Magee)
Like the 30-year old Island-class patrol boats before them, they will support the people of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S.’s international partners throughout Oceania. The FRCs represent the Coast Guard’s commitment to modernizing service assets to address the increasingly complex global maritime transportation system.
The Coast Guard already has a well-established presence within the region due to its bilateral shiprider agreements with Pacific Island Forum countries. These shiprider agreements allow partnering nations’ defense and law enforcement officers to go aboard Coast Guard vessels to observe, board, and search vessels suspected of violating laws or regulations within their exclusive economic zones.
The advanced capabilities of the new vessels greatly improve the Coast Guard’s ability to conduct missions ranging from search and rescue to national defense while also contributing to joint operations between the United States and its regional partners as they work towards common goals such as the prevention of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“The people of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Micronesia can rest assured that these multi-mission platforms stand ready to support our partners throughout the region,” said Simmons.
Each FRC has a standard 24-person crew. This brings over 70 new Coast Guard members to Guam, along with their family members. Before the three vessels’ arrival, the Coast Guard presence on Guam was composed of approximately 250 active duty personnel and 40 reservists.