By Mark Edward Nero
The US Coast Guard’s newest National Security Cutter (NSC) Munro was commissioned into service April 1 in Seattle.
The Munro was commissioned to honor the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient, Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro (1919–1942), who is buried in the veterans’ section of Laurel Hill Memorial Park in the town of Cle Elum in Kittitas County, Washington.
Munro was killed in action in the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II while providing covering fire during the evacuation of a detachment of 500 US Marines who were under attack.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft presided over the ceremony, accepting the sixth NSC into the military service’s fleet. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly also sent well wishes to those participating in the commissioning.
“As the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, I’m excited to see this sophisticated national asset put to work ensuring the security and prosperity of our nation,” Kelly said. “As a Marine, I’m honored and humbled to see this cutter commissioned to honor Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro who saved hundreds of Marines at Guadalcanal. It’s apparent his legacy and sacrifice lives on in each member of the US Coast Guard.”
Known as the “Legend” class, NSCs are designed to be the flagships of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging national security missions, including providing support to US combatant commanders. NSCs are 418 feet in length, 54 feet in beam and displace 4,600 long tons.
The cutters have a top speed of more than 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can carry a crew of up to 150, according to the USCG. The new cutters are replacing the aging High Endurance Hamilton class cutters (378 feet) that have been in service since the 1960s.
The Munro will conduct operations from South America to the Bering Sea, running such missions as alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, counter-narcotics and homeland security operations at great distances from shore.
The commissioning of a cutter is a time-honored naval tradition where a vessel is placed into active service. During this event, the cutter is “brought to life” and the crew ceremoniously reports aboard to accept their positions.
Munro’s great niece, Julie Sheehan, the ship’s sponsor, ordered the ship to “come to life” alongside the vessel’s commanding officer, Capt. Thomas King. Sheehan and many of Munro’s family members reside in the Pacific Northwest and were in attendance.
Munro is the sixth NSC to be commissioned and the fourth to be homeported on the West Coast in Alameda, California.