Friday, April 21, 2017

USCG Decommissions 50-Year-Old Hawaii-Based Cutter

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard decommissioned its eighth high-endurance cutter on April 18 as part of recapitalization efforts during a ceremony at Coast Guard Base Honolulu.

The Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau, a 378-foot high-endurance cutter, was decommissioned after nearly 50 years of service, including action in the Vietnam War, numerous major drug interdictions and law enforcement cases, and a variety of noteworthy rescues, according to the USCG.

Morgenthau, commissioned March 10, 1969, was the eighth of 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters built by Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans. High-endurance cutters are the largest of their kind, aside from the three major icebreakers and national security cutters, ever built for the Coast Guard. Morgenthau was active in the Vietnam War, conducting underway replenishment, naval gunfire support, and patrol duties off the coast of Vietnam until relieved by a 311-foot cutter in 1971.

In 1977, the USCG says, Morgenthau became the first cutter to have women permanently assigned on board, which paved the way for others to serve aboard Coast Guard cutters nationwide.

In the fall of 1996, Morgenthau was the first US Coast Guard cutter to deploy to the Arabian Gulf. Participating in Operation Vigilant Sentinel, it enforced Iraq’s compliance with United Nations sanctions. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Morgenthau participated in Operation Noble Eagle to safeguard America’s prominent port cities through closer scrutiny of maritime traffic.

“The history of Morgenthau’s operations showcases the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out a diverse and important range of missions vital to the security and prosperity of our nation,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, who leads the service’s Pacific fleet as the commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area in Alameda, California.

The US State Department is coordinating the transfer of Morgenthau through the Foreign Assistance Act. This act allows the transfer of excess defense articles as a grant to friendly, foreign governments.

“This cutter may leave our service, but the legacy of the men and women who served on Morgenthau will live on forever,” Midgette said.