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.