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End of an Era, USCG Retiring Hamilton Class Cutters

by John Reed on May 23, 2011

After almost five decades of service, the U.S. Coast Guard has started retiring its Hamilton class cutters this month and replacing them with the National Security Cutter class, sister site DoDBuzz pointed out today.

As Buzz points out the Hamiltons have served the Coasties for a long time and were extremely tired, the arrival of the National Security Cutters is a pretty significant milestone in the evolution of a 21st Century Coast Guard.

The 378s have been the backbone of the Coast Guard’s large cutter fleet for decades, and their crews have kept them on duty out at sea no matter what, even as the ships threatened to disintegrate from hard use and old age.

The departure of these two ships is a milestone not only because it marks the end of their legendary service, but also because it means the Coast Guard’s new national security cutters are finally taking their places in the fleet. The first of the new 418-foot cutters, the Bertholf, is on its debut patrol in the Coast Guard’s most treacherous operating environment — Alaska — and its skipper, Capt. John Prince, wrote that the ship and its crew are thriving:

The article goes on to articluate just how significant it is that the service has received a truly modern replacement for it’s largest class (size-wise) of law enforcement ship, quoting the captain as saying:

It is truly exhilarating as a sailor and cutterman to see what this optimally crewed ship is capable of – fast, quiet, a good ride, environmentally friendly, top notch sensors, weapons systems and communications suite, a huge and stable flight deck, interoperable with Department of Defense and other partners. Just recently, we demonstrated U.S. capabilities and commitment to preserving the balance in the Arctic region when we worked with our Russian partners. They were impressed with the high morale and quality of life enjoyed by our crew from berthing areas to the exercise facility to our galley – which was recently selected as the dining facility of the year in the large afloat category for its quality and efficiency. Other than good weather and calm seas, there is not much more I could ask for.


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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

usa power May 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm

san diego


Hunter78 May 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm

It's like getting a new car, of course they're happy. Are the replacement cutters on board because the size and quantity were needed, or because the politicians and the vendors thought that would be a good amount? Are any alternate strategies for seaside border control being considered?


anon May 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Yes, yes, no, NO. The NSC are long overdue and are fine for the job without getting second guessed by armchair admirals. The real problem is that they are late and taking too long to build, but then again, what else in the military isnt having those problems?


Anthony May 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Well, the Hamilton Cutters served us well for the last few decades. However, I am happy to see them finally go. It means that the USCG is finally getting much needed modern designs. The National Security cutters are a fine addition to the fleet, but they are too few, and were needlessly overbudget and late.

Hopefully the Coasties can get more new ships in a timely and budget friendly manner. They need new assets badly. Some of the cutters out there on the seas are ancient.


jeffdg May 25, 2011 at 7:53 pm

it's nice that the majority of the CG fleet is no longer comprised of Navy hand-me-downs.


Robert Colt May 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I hope they live up to their hype. I've read mix reviews about the Bertholf Class ships, ranging from quality of construction, typical overpricing of its construction and lately lacking capacities. The ship has less firepower than Hamiltons had, which at one point were armed like a US Frigate at its height. However it had big time problems too. Hopefully follow on units for the National Cutter will address them, but i have my doubts.


ziv May 24, 2011 at 7:33 am

The armament issue is one that makes me wonder. The Hamiltons swapped out their older 5" gun for a 76mm and now the Bertholf has a rapid-fire 57mm and CIWS. Other than a few 50 cals, that is about it. Even the LCS has the SeaRam to complement the 57mm, so it seems like the new cutters are a bit light on weapons.
It seems like the LCS and the NSC should have some sort of longer range weapon, like the canceled NLOS derivative that the LCS was supposed to have.


Ethan May 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm

They have the fire power the Navy seemed willing to fund. All Weapon Systems are funded by the Navy and its like pulling teeth to get them. There is always a debate as to what the Coast Guard needs to have to perform its missions. There are those in the Coast Guard that Hate the idea that the CG does fight/participates in war and would rather see it as an unarmed service.. When I was at CGHQ I fought with them all the time for money for weapons training.


Stephen Russell May 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Tour Boats
Police Harbor Patrol?
Marine research
Mobile marine lab
Bouy tender
Fisheries patrol

Just add New Mn engines, comm, radar, bridge & eng systems, HDTV, etc

Be awesome sight at Sea with New internal parts, etc for Civilian use.

(same for copters, planes, other ships. armor.)


anon May 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Can't re-use everything.

Perhaps we should consider dumping parts of the Mothball fleet, which are also quite old.


Curt May 24, 2011 at 2:41 am

They have been "dumping" the mothball fleet for years, not much left.


don August 5, 2013 at 12:50 am

Check out the link below — to see what happened to Hamilton and Dallas.

Hamilton is the gray one (now, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar) welcoming the newly arrived 'unpainted' Dallas (BRP Ramon Alcaraz). Dallas/Alcaraz is using a new diesel engine.


Tom Fitz May 24, 2011 at 2:05 am

I served on the Boutwell (719) 1969-1970. This post makes me realize I am oooooold.

OTOH, the Coast Guard used USN castoffs for years. I would think the Hamiltons would have a lot of life left in them for less demanding service, maybe with NOAA, maybe in more limited roles for SAR, etc.


Matrix_3692 May 24, 2011 at 8:05 am

how old are you now?


Tom Fitz May 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm

just had my Medicare birthday


GMCM W May 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm

The Hamilton class is having hull flex problems that cause shaft seal problems. They have already out lived their life expectancy. They were good cutters I served on four of them in my 27 years of CG service.


Gene Griffith May 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Also served on the Boutwell, 69-70, 72-73. Hard to believe they are that old and to be scraped. There are a lot of memories aboard the Boutwell-Search and Rescue, Ocean Station Patrols, Surveillance of a distressed Soviet Sub, and the list goes on.Time marches on. I'm sounding like a bunches of my father's WWII buddies that I used to listen to tell their stories.


John May 25, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I was on the Ingham WHEC 35. Now that was an old ship. She got us where we needed to go and back. We weren’t looking for drug runners or pirates but we did have a 5″ and torpedoes. Sonar was a relic which is probably why they took it out along with the torpedoes at Curtis Bay.


Randy D. May 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I served on the Morgenthau for a couple of years in 82, 3, 4. Will never forget the experiences. I was always impressed when the turbines were pushing the ship along at what seemed like high speeds. I also sat in the director when we fired the five inch. Good times. Does anyone know how to find out when the Morg will be decommissioned? I may have to take my first vacation to Hawaii for that.

Randy (Gunman)


David (Sparks) May 26, 2011 at 7:49 am

Hold off on buying those tickets to Hawaii…Morgenthau is homeported in Alameda and no schedule for decomm has been published other than, the Hamilton and Chase in FY 2011 then Rush and Jarvis 'planned for decomm in FY 2012… unless something changes. As always with the CG… Semper Gumby.


Brian May 28, 2011 at 1:51 am

Here is a link to the Morgenthau maybe check it to see if they post anything about decommissioning http://www.uscg.mil/pacarea/cgcmorgenthau/


Rick May 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Missles on cutters? The Commandant is cutting out the SEAL program that was a force multiplier; USCG SEALS can go places under the auspices of Law Enforcement that USN SEALs wouldn't have been allowed to go; namely South American countries (much like IMLET in the 80's and 90's did) that are harboring terrorists and drug smugglers that support terrorists. The Dems are dismantling our military along with some Republicans that are assisting them.


Arthur W. Acheson May 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I served on the Taney in 54 & 55, which was a sister ship of the Hamilton. They were 327 feet and the Hamilton was sunk in WW 2.

Art Acheson MSgt USAF (Ret)


Darrell Parks May 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm

I was permanent party at Yorktown in 69. Saw the Hamilton sail up the York River to Naval Weapons to take on ammo before sailing to Nam. I may still have a photo of her going through the York River double-swing bridge.


Mac McCrodden May 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Was stationed on the Hamilton from 81-83 out of Boston and there was nothing wrong outside of a few small occasional engineering problems. The new "Security "cutters" cost the same as the Cooper River Bridge due to the "cost over runs" in the neighborhood of 500 million clams. Holy mother of God. Can the US of A and the CG afford things that expensive?


Dean F. Wolff May 25, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I was in the Coast Guard from 1970 to 1974 and these cutters were brand new when I was in. They have lasted a good long time! The 311's and the 255's were built at the start of WWII as were the Wind Class icebreakers. I was on the Staten Island for her last two cruises. They just commissioned the Polar Star about the time that I got out. God! Those two icebreakers must be really tired too! The point that I should have made a lot quicker is that the 311's, 255's and the Wind Class icebreakers weren't nearly as old as the 378's are now before they were falling apart and being decommissioned. Two points: I can't believe that it's been 40 years since I was in the Guard and Good Job (!!! ) to all of the snipes and everybody else who have kept these cutters running for as long as they have! Yes, I was a snipe. Snipes Rule!!!


Jack May 26, 2011 at 6:11 am

Served on the Bibb WHEC-31 and the Hamilton WHEC-715, both out of Boston. I was sorry to see them both go.


don August 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Hamilton is now serving democracy and freedom as Philippine Navy BRP Gregorio Del Pilar. She is loved here as much and we will take good care of her…


Angela Henley May 26, 2011 at 6:47 am

I served on the Dallas WHEC 716..It was ancient when I was on there..Glad to see that they are getting new technology for the best of the best


don August 4, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Dallas will be serving as Philippine Navy BRP Ramon Alcaraz – she is not done yet serving democracy and freedom…


Rick Cormier May 26, 2011 at 7:55 am

I served on the Chase back in the early 70's out of Boston.. Hated to see them go.


Wayne Orkin May 26, 2011 at 9:14 am

Served on the Gallatin beck in early 70s out of Governors Island.


Melissa Bonhoff April 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm
Melissa Bonhoff April 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm
Mike Smith May 26, 2011 at 9:21 am

Served aboard BOUTWELL from 83-86. Best three years of the 23 I served in the CG. May have to find out when 719 will be decommissioned and make the trip to be there. Hate to see them go but I'm sure the new shps are a welcome relief for the aging fleet.


Harry Walters May 26, 2011 at 9:24 am

I was on the Sherman WHEC-720 in the mid seventies when she was in Boston. I remember watching a boot ensign pull my brother's boat ,the Chase WHEC-718. into the dock at low tide. He was going too fast and took 27 feet out of the bow!!! Ensigns are always funny. With that kind of abuse… I'm surprised they lasted this long. Does anyone know when and where they will be de-commissioned?


Donald May 26, 2011 at 11:26 am

Many of you are talking about how much life is left in the Hamilton class cutter, I served on the Hamilton in 1976, just before getting out of the Coast Guard after ten years of service. She was a nice ship, but just like the 210's they are getting old and do need to be replaced. I am a plank owner ont the Dependable and she was made after the Hamilton class. I wnt to the South Pole on the Burton Island and it was so old it leaked in the fuel tanks so we had to have them repaired before continuing on her mission. I praise God they are getting newer faster better ships. they deserve them, there missions are getting bigger and they are facing drug cartels who can make ships and submarines to fight them.


Chuck Rabe May 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I server on the BIbb 1974-1976 and thought the 210 and 378 fleet was way cool at the tiome.


Warren May 26, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Wonderful ships. I served on RUSH '91-'94 and '95-'98, and on a slightly younger Navy Frigate from '83-'86. RUSH was hands down the superior ship to be on from its Spruance hull-form, comfortable berthing compared to the much more heavily manned Knox Frigate, CODAG as opposed to dangerous 1200lb steam, two props, windows on the mess decks, portholes for the officers staterooms. The Hamiltons were ahead of their time. Some will continue to serve in foreign Coast Guards and Navys. Their time is not over yet. My hat's off too to those of you keeping them operational today.


John Webb May 26, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I was on the Hamilton from 1979 to 1981 when it was in Boston, and the best part was "hogger night" at the base bar !


Bob May 26, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Some great memories… Sailed on the Morg for a few weeks in 1982, crossed the lines right at the intersection of the Arctic Circle, and the International Date Line on July 4th, 1982. Served a tour on board USCGC DALLAS (WHEC-716) as A-Gang out of Yankee Pier, GINY. Never forget responding to a distress call for an overturned Haitian vsl that capsized during a 0200 boarding by a sister 378'. I was EOW, we went from one shaft freewheeling, and 2/3 on the other diesel to Flank on both birds without a hitch in what had to be record time. Nothing like the feel of a 378' with both birds whistling at Flank speed… Sad to see them go.


Rajarata May 26, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I see the 2 Hamilton cutters in Honolulu under heavy overhaul. New cutter looks awesome !


Brian May 28, 2011 at 1:16 am

I served on the Morgenthau WHEC-722 from 86-89 just before it went to FRAM Great Ship


Denny (MKC) May 28, 2011 at 11:32 am

Ran the 378 Mat team in ny before the cutters move south.Did alot of work on the Dallas and Gallatin.hope these new ships dont need as much TLC when they get older.


Jose Ivan Bacolado July 16, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Thank you USCG for giving us the opportunity to command your retiring hamilton class cutter. It is a privilege for the the Philippine Navy to manned a better equipped and modern ship so far in the Navy's fleet of 2nd world war vintage ships. Thus giving us a more flexible and better navy in defense of our maritime territory. Rest assured our navy's men and women will treasure and loved new lady in the fleet.


Jose Ivan Bacolado July 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Thank you USCG for giving us the opportunity to command your retiring hamilton class cutter. It is a privilege for the the Philippine Navy to manned a better equipped and modern ship so far in the Navy's fleet of 2nd world war vintage ships. Thus giving us a more flexible and better navy in defense of our maritime territory. Rest assured our navy's men and women will treasure and loved new lady in the fleet.


Tim Raycob February 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Several of the 378's have been given to the Phillipines to "upgrade" their navy. I believe they're supposed to get a total of 3 of them. The rest will probably be turned into articifial reefs. Would love to see 1 or 2 turned into museums. Maybe one in Pearl and the another in Boston or Charleston.


don August 4, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Hamilton is now servings as BRP Gregorio Del Pilar.
Dallas will be serving as BRP Ramon Alcaraz.

Both are well loved here and are taken good care of. They are not done yet serving democracy and freedom… wherever they go.


Mike ward April 1, 2012 at 12:08 am

Served on the Rush 723 in 70-71 on the Vietnam tour. Cant believe they are getting retired, the Rush was brand new when I was on board. I guess I may get decommissioned soon too.


B. J. Avalle April 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I served on the Sherman 720 out of Boston 1972-73, did a lot of Ocean Station Bravo (almost hit an ice berg, had to shoot at it to break it up), one trip to GITMO. I missed her when I left Boston, she was a good home. Went to Electrician Mate School at Governor's Island, saw the Dallas, Morg. Later worked at TRACEN and made TV training for CG and for Admiral. Saw Sherman again and recorded her in Dry Dock, Glen Burnie Maryland for Coast Guard archives. I thought it sailed great and was impressive then. It had come back from it's tour in Nam when I had reported to the crew. I have seen she is in San Diego now. I will be sad to know she is gone soon, I did snorkle in Keys over the Bib, odd to see a ship you used to walk on to visit fellow Coasties.


Kubiak August 10, 2012 at 10:56 am

I am a U.S.C.G. cutter Rush plank owner, in addition to having been a E-3 and GM-3 in Vietnam 1970-71. Some scary times dropping the breachblock when the 5" froze up during shooting because of heat, when the round and powder case were cooking off. Now that I'm 61 and my only challenge is my health I must ask : where the hell is Chief Mills now that I need him…..again.


DWCrawford August 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm

The first boat I shipped out on was the WAGB281, the Westwind and yeah, was aboard when the Capt wrecked it.. We kept her afloat and got her home. Was a plank owner on the Spencer, did TAD on the Hamilton. It's sad in a way,. It's kinda like outliving your kids.


Evans April 27, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I was on the pre-commiioning crew of the Gallatin W721` and thought it was a floating hotel compared to my my first assignment before ET school; namely the USCGC Mackinac W371; a 311 foot cutter. I always wonder if Captain Moser is still kicking. I would like to communicate with him.


Tom Storella March 20, 2014 at 11:46 am

Hey man, I was also a plank owner on the Gal…Pre – Comm detail on Staten Island. Picked her up in New Orleans… Lets talk.


llle May 24, 2011 at 9:14 pm

No, but in a time of war (however unlikely, we should consider the "nightmare" scenario) the Coast Guard should ideally be able to back up the Navy. A 57mm may not be able to stop a hijacked oil tanker laden with explosives, either.

Obviously we shouldnt go around fitting all the CG cutters with VLSs but I think returning ASW missiles and Harpoons would be a nice idea.


anon May 25, 2011 at 2:22 am

Considering oil tanker captains yield at the sign of even a RPG-7, I would imagine a burst of 57mm rounds would probably do a real number, more if AP-I rounds exist.

Torpedoes would be sufficient for surface targets and subs, and guns for light targets.


anon May 25, 2011 at 7:33 am

~65. Medicare birthday would refer to his vesting in. Coast Guard gets VA benefits though, do they not?


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