The Coast Guard accepted delivery of Coast Guard Cutter Charles David Jr, the seventh vessel in the Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter (FRC) recapitalization project, Aug. 17 in Key West, Fla. The Charles David Jr will be the first of six FRCs to be homeported in Key West, Fla. Once commissioned, it will provide support operations in the Seventh Coast Guard District, an area comprised of 1.8 million square nautical miles of ocean ranging from the South Carolina coast to the Caribbean.
To date, five FRCs have been commissioned into service. The sixth FRC, Paul Clark, will be commissioned into service later this month. The Coast Guard plans to acquire 58 FRCs to replace the service’s 110-foot Island Class patrol boat fleet, which range in age from 20 to 27 years old. Nine FRCs are currently in production at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La. The Coast Guard has ordered a total of 18 FRCs to date.
The Sentinel-class FRC project is representative of the Coast Guard’s disciplined approach to rebuild its surface fleet. The FRC uses a proven, in-service parent craft design based on the Damen Stan Patrol 4708. It has a flank speed of 28 knots and a 2,500-hours-per-year operational employment target. It uses state-of-the-market command, control, communications and computer technology interoperable with the Coast Guard’s existing and future assets, as well as Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense assets.
The cutter’s namesake is Steward’s Mate First Class Charles W. David Jr. David enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1941 and was assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Comanche. The night of Feb. 3, 1943, the Comanche was on convoy duty in the North Atlantic Ocean when it was called to the aid of the U.S. Army transport USAT Dorchester, which had been torpedoed by an enemy submarine and was quickly sinking.
Upon reaching the scene, David was among several crewmembers that volunteered to enter the frigid ocean to save the soldiers and crew of the Dorchester. Using a recently devised “rescue retriever” technique, where a rescuer ties a line to a person so he can be hoisted from the water to a waiting ship, David and other volunteers from the Comanche and Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba ultimately rescued 230 men. One volunteer, Ensign Robert Anderson, was rescued by David after Anderson was overcome by the cold, heavy seas. David succumbed to pneumonia three days later, leaving behind a widow and a young son. David was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions.
For more information: Fast Response Cutter project page