US Coast Guard commissions fast response cutter Oliver Berry

Crewmembers man the rails aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) as aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point conduct a fly-over in two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters during a commissioning ceremony at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Oct. 31, 2017. Photo: US Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard commissioned its 24th fast response cutter (FRC), Oliver Berry, in a ceremony in Honolulu on October 31.

The cutter is the first FRC stationed in Hawaii and in the Coast Guard’s Fourteenth District, which covers more than 12 million square miles of land and sea in the Western and Central Pacific, including units in the Hawaiian Islands, Guam and American Samoa and activities in Saipan, Singapore and Japan.

The FRC’s namesake, Oliver Berry, was a pioneer in the field of helicopter maintenance. After a Belgian airliner crashed near Gander, Newfoundland, in September 1946, he significantly aided the rescue of the passengers through his pivotal role in the rapid dismantling, transporting and reassembling two Coast Guard helicopters, which were the only platforms able to successfully reach and transport the crash victims. The service’s annual Chief Oliver F. Berry Aviation Maintenance Award, which recognizes an enlisted Coast Guard aircraft maintainer who demonstrated exceptional performance and enhanced the overall quality of Coast Guard maintenance, is named in his honor.

The Sentinel-class FRCs are designed for missions including search and rescue; national defense; ports, waterways and coastal security; drug and migrant interdiction; and fisheries patrols. The ships feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment; over-the-horizon cutter boat deployment to reach vessels of interest; and improved seakeeping and habitability.

The Coast Guard is acquiring 58 FRCs to replace its 110-foot patrol boats. Forty-four have been ordered. Twenty-four are in service: 12 in Florida, six in Puerto Rico, two in Alaska, two in New Jersey, one in Mississippi and one in Hawaii. Future FRC homeports include Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, and San Pedro, California

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