US Coast Guard receives 23rd fast response cutter ‘Benjamin Dailey’

Illustration: Sister ship USCGC Margaret Norvell operating in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Image: Bollinger Shipyards

The U.S. Coast Guard received its 23rd fast response cutter (FRC), Benjamin Dailey, in a ceremony in Key West, Florida, on April 20.

The Bollinger Shipyards-built FRC will be stationed in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and is scheduled for commissioning in July.

The cutter will be the first FRC stationed in the Coast Guard’s Eighth District, which includes coastlines along the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle.

The cutter’s namesake, Benjamin Dailey, was serving as keeper of the Cape Hatteras Life-Saving Station on Dec. 22, 1885, when he and his crew, assisted by another lifeboat station, rescued nine men from the foundering ship Ephraim Williams five miles off the Outer Banks. The seven men withstood heavy seas for two hours to rescue the vessel’s crew. For his actions, Dailey was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal on April 24, 1885.

The FRC, which is replacing the 1980s-era Island-class 110-foot patrol boats, can reach a maximum speed of more than 28 knots and have an endurance of five days. They are designed for multiple missions, including drug and migrant interdictions; ports, waterways and coastal security; fishery patrols; search and rescue; and national defense.

Twenty-one FRCs are in service: two in Cape May, New Jersey; six in Miami; six in Key West, Florida; six in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and one in Ketchikan, Alaska. Ketchikan will get a second FRC, as will Pascagoula. Future FRC homeports include Honolulu; Atlantic Beach, North Carolina; and San Pedro, California.

The Coast Guard has so far ordered 38 of the overall 58 Sentinel-class cutters it intends to acquire.

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