USCGC MELLON's keel was laid on July 25, 1966 at Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans, LA. CGC MELLON was launched on February 11, 1967 and was commissioned on January 9, 1968. She was named after Andrew W. Mellon 49th Secretary of the Treasury from 1921-1932. MELLON is the third in her class of seven high endurance cutters built by Avondale Shipyards. She was sponsored on her commissioning date by Mrs. John W. Warner Jr. granddaughter of the late Secretary Andrew W. Mellon.
USCGC MELLON launching the Harpoon missile in January 1990. CGC MELLON was designed to perform each of the Coast Guard’s missions, which then included search and rescue, defense operations, law enforcement, environmental protection and oceanographic research. She was built with a welded steel hull and aluminum superstructure. CGC MELLON was one of the first naval vessels built with a combined diesel and gas turbine propulsion plant. The twin screws can use 7,000 diesel shaft horsepower to make 17 knots, and a total of 36,000 gas turbine shaft horsepower to make 28 knots. The diesel engines are Fairbanks-Morse and are larger versions of a 1968 diesel locomotive design. Her Pratt-Whitney marine gas turbine engines are similar to those installed in Boeing 707 passenger jet aircraft. It is worth noting that CGC MELLON was among the first American vessels to use jet aircraft-type turbines for propulsion.
CGC MELLON was classified as a "high endurance cutter," one which was designed to remain at sea for extended periods of time to undertake mid-ocean search and rescue operations and to conduct law enforcement and national security missions. The 2748-ton cutter’s crossing range is 10,000 miles at 20 knots. This is approximately the distance from New York to Melbourne, Australia. CGC MELLON was originally built with an 80-foot long flight deck and "balloon shelter." CGC MELLON was one of the newer ships of her class to have a joystick helm. The previous High Endurance Cutters were equipped with standard ship’s wheels as helms. She was also equipped with extensive anti-submarine warfare equipment, including the Mk46 torpedo and the AN/SQS-26 sonar. In January 1990, MELLON was first in her class to fire the Harpoon missile. The ASW and Harpoon launching systems were later removed due to budget constraints.