In 2008 the U.S. Coast Guard called for the design and construction of up to 34 new generation “Sentinel Class” Fast Response Cutters (FRC) at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, LA. Now, over three years later, the first such cutter, the Bernard C. Webber, is scheduled to be commissioned at the Port of Miami on Saturday.
The Sentinel-class will eventually replace the Coast Guard’s venerable Island-class 110-foot patrol boat, and 18 have been order so far. The 154-foot Webber will deploy independently to conduct missions such as ports, waterways, and coastal security, fishery patrols, drug and illegal migrant law enforcement, search and rescue, and national defense operations along the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the Caribbean.
“I am very excited about the commissioning of the Coast Guard Cutter Webber,” said Rear Adm. Bill Baumgartner, commander of the 7th Coast Guard District. “It is the first of 18 Fast Response Cutters that are scheduled to be delivered to the 7th Coast Guard District over the next several years. This new cutter fleet will be a vital instrument in supporting illicit migrant and narcotic trafficking interdiction, but will only fill a portion of the critical gap we face in our operational capability. While the Fast Response Cutters are highly capable platforms, the Coast Guard is in need of an Offshore Patrol Cutter as well. These OPCs would be able to deploy greater distances, effectively extending our maritime border outward to prevent threats to our national security. The OPC would replace our aging Medium Endurance Cutter fleet, most of which are over 40 years old and in desperate need of recapitalization to meet the future security needs of America.”
The FRC design is based on the proven parent craft design of the Damen Stan Patrol 4708’s developed by Damen Shipyards in the Netherlands. With a required flank speed of 28 knots, the FRC’s will be armed with one stabilized, remotely-operated 25mm chain gun and four crew-served .50 caliber machine guns. Other requirements of the FRC’s include the ability to perform independently for a minimum of five days at sea and capable of underway operations for a minimum of 2,500 hours per year. The FRC’s will use state-of-the-market command, control, communications and computer technology that will be interoperable with the Coast Guard’s existing and future assets, as well as Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense assets. The cutter will also meet American Bureau of Shipping design, build and class standards.
The new Sentinel Class patrol boats will all be named after Coast Guard heroes. The Webber is named after Coast Guard hero Bernard C. Webber, who is credited with helping make one of the greatest rescues in Coast Guard history.
VIDEO: Bernard C. Webber Build Trials