The third U.S. Coast Guard cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) arrived in Honolulu Harbor Saturday becoming the third 154-foot Fast Response Cutter (FRC) homeported in Hawaii.
The FRCs are some of the newest Coast Guard vessels to come on-line, replacing the aging patrol boat fleet currently in use, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West. The FRCs represent the Coast Guard’s commitment to modernizing service assets to address the increasingly complex global Maritime Transportation System.
FRCs boast advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems designed to assist the cutter’s crew with their primary mission to patrol coastal regions. Recently the FRCs already stationed in Honolulu participated in longer over-the-horizon voyages to the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Samoa displaying the potential of these cutters and their importance to the Coast Guard’s overall Pacific strategy and regional partnerships.
William Hart, the cutter’s namesake, was a Gold Lifesaving Medal recipient who rescued a crewmember of the tug Thomas Tracy. In 1927 Hart dove into the water in a 70-mph gale off Absecon, New Jersey, to save the mariner who went overboard in the storm.
Throughout the ’30s, Hart served in the Army Corps of Engineers before returning to the Coast Guard in 1939, advancing to the paygrade of E-7 or Chief Petty Officer serving as a boatswain’s mate. Once the United States entered World War II, Hart was commissioned as a lieutenant junior grade and served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1950.
William Hart is the last of the three FRCs to be stationed in Hawaii. The crew transited the vessel from Key West, Florida, following delivery and preparation for sailing. Three more are scheduled to be homeported in Guam, increasing the Coast Guard 14th District’s total number of FRCs to six. As a whole, the Coast Guard is currently acquiring 56 FRCs to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats.
Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, to whom the cutter crew will report, plans to commission the William Hart in a ceremony Sept. 26.