US Coast Guard’s high endurance cutter Sherman (WHEC 720) returned from its final deployment on January 23, completing a 76-day patrol in the Bering Sea.
The deployment was Sherman’s last one before it decommissions in March this year after nearly 50 years of service.
The cutter is scheduled to be decommissioned on March 29 and will reportedly be transferred to Vietnam. Should this be the case, Sherman would be joining former sister ship USCGC Morgenthau which was renamed to ‘CSB 8020’ after it was transferred to Vietnam.
During their final patrol, the crew supported the safe transit of a disabled vessel over 800 miles to Dutch Harbor, enforced fisheries regulations in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. They also provided a command and control platform capable of embarking a helicopter, thus providing search and rescue coverage to those operating in the Bering Sea.
Sherman has a storied history including being the last remaining US Warship in the Coast Guard or Navy to have sunk an enemy vessel. It is also one of only two cutters to hold the Vietnam Service Award and the only cutter to hold the Combat Action Ribbon for action in the Vietnam War.
In 2001 it became the first cutter to circumnavigate the world, after conducting UN sanctions enforcement duty in the Persian Gulf and goodwill projects in Madagascar, South Africa and Cape Verde.
Adding to Sherman’s history, in March of 2007, a boarding team dispatched from the cutter discovered 17 metric tons of cocaine on the Panamanian-flagged freighter, Gatun. This seizure remains the largest drug bust in US history with an estimated street value of $600 million. As the record holder, Sherman proudly wears the Golden Snowflake.
“As Sherman and her crew return home from this final patrol, it is humbling to look back on the history and the accomplishments of this crew and the previous,” said Capt. Steve Wittrock, commanding officer of Sherman. “This final patrol has been significant in that the Bering Sea mission is one of the most demanding and historically important in the Coast Guard and I am very proud of the way that the crew has performed throughout the last two challenging months.”
Sherman is one of the Coast Guard’s four remaining 378-foot high endurance cutters still in operation. The 1950s era fleet of cutters is presently being replaced by the national security cutters, which will soon serve as the Coast Guard’s primary, long-range asset. Honolulu will serve as a homeport to two of the national security cutters, replacing Sherman and the already decommissioned Morgenthau.