Hawaii welcomes first fast response coast guard cutter

Coast Guard cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) arrives to Honolulu Sept. 22. Photo: US Coast Guard

US Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) became the first fast response cutter to be stationed in Hawaii arriving in Honolulu on September 22.

The Oliver Berry is the first of three Honolulu-based FRCs that will primarily serve the main Hawaiian Islands.

The 154-foot cutters are designed to patrol coastal regions and feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, including the ability to launch and recover standardized small boats from the stern.

The cutter is named after Chief Petty Officer Oliver Fuller Berry, a South Carolina native and graduate of the Citadel. He was a highly skilled helicopter mechanic working on early Coast Guard aircraft. Berry was also one of the world’s first experts on the maintenance of helicopters and served as lead instructor at the first military helicopter training unit, the Rotary Wing Development Unit which was established at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in 1946. He also helped develop the helicopter rescue hoist.

The Coast Guard is acquiring 58 FRCs to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. The FRCs are designed for missions including search and rescue; fisheries enforcement; drug and migrant interdiction; ports, waterways and coastal security; and national defense. The Coast Guard took delivery of Oliver Berry June 27 in Key West. The crew then transited more than 8,400 miles (7,300 nautical miles) to Hawaii.

A commissioning, scheduled to be held Oct. 31, will be presided by Vice Adm. Fred M. Midgette, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander. Also in attendance will be the cutter’s sponsor Susan Hansen, distant cousin of Oliver Berry.

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