The William Flores, the third vessel in the Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter (FRC) recapitalization project, was delivered to the Coast Guard August 15 in Key West, Fla. Flores will be commissioned into service in Tampa, Fla. on November 3, 2012, and homeported alongside the first and second FRCs, Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber and Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge, in Miami.
The Coast Guard plans to acquire 58 FRCs to replace the service’s 110-foot Island Class fleet. The cutters of the Island Class fleet range in age from 20 to 27 years old.
The Coast Guard expects to take delivery of one FRC per quarter. The first six FRCs are scheduled to be stationed in Miami to support operations in the 7th Coast Guard District, an area ranging from the South Carolina coast to the Caribbean, consisting of 1.8 million square nautical miles of ocean.
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 Boat 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 also meets American Bureau of Shipping design, build and classification standards.
Each FRC will be named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished him or herself in the line of duty. On January 28, 1980, 18 year-old Seaman Apprentice William Flores was serving aboard the sea-going buoy tender Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn when it collided with the tanker S.S. Capricorn while underway in Tampa Bay. The Blackthorn capsized before the crew could evacuate. Flores, only one year out of boot camp, remained aboard, aiding the wounded and disoriented. He used his belt to strap open a lifejacket locker door, enabling lifejackets to float to shipmates on the surface as the Blackthorn sank. Flores and 23 crew members were lost in the accident. Twenty seven Blackthorn crew members survived, many because of Flores’ actions. Flores was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard Medal for heroism.
To learn more about the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter Project, please visit: http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/sentinel/