The Coast Guard commissioned the 47th fast response cutter (FRC), Clarence Sutphin Jr, on April 21 in New York City. Clarence Sutphin Jr is the final of six FRCs that will be stationed in Manama, Bahrain. Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, Atlantic Area commander, presided over the ceremony. Stationing FRCs in Bahrain supports Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the U.S., and its mission to train, organize, equip, support and deploy combat-ready Coast Guard forces in support of U.S. Central Command and national security objectives. PATFORSWA works with U.S. Central Command in conducting maritime operations to forward U.S. interests, deter and counter disruptive countries, defeat violent extremism and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities to secure the maritime environment in the Central Command area of responsibility.
The cutter is named for Petty Officer 1st Class Clarence Sutphin Jr. Sutphin enlisted in the Coast Guard in November 1941, weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. In May 1942, Sutphin was assigned to USS Leonard Wood, a landing craft also known as a Higgins boat, landing troops in North Africa and Sicily. When that operation was complete, the boat transited to the Pacific theater. During the Battle of Saipan in 1944, Sutphin helped oversee boat operations including landing, loading, and salvaging landing craft as the Leonard Wood endured the heavy fire. During the conflict, he repeatedly risked his life to save others. He provided first aid to the survivors and evacuated them to the nearest aid station. Sutphin stayed aboard the Leonard Wood through May 1945 and participated in all of its eight major amphibious operations. Sutphin was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his “exceptional bravery under fire” during the Battle of Saipan.
The Sentinel-class FRCs feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment; over-the-horizon cutter boat deployment to reach vessels of interest; and improved habitability and seakeeping. The cutters are designed for multiple missions including search and rescue; national defense; ports, waterways, and coastal security; drug and migrant interdiction; and fisheries patrols. The Coast Guard has ordered 64 FRCs to date. With this commissioning, 47 are in service: 12 in Florida; seven in Puerto Rico; four each in California and Bahrain; three each in Guam, Hawaii, Texas, and New Jersey; two each in Alaska, Mississippi, and North Carolina; and Clarence Sutphin Jr and John Scheuerman, which will sail to Bahrain later this year. Future FRC homeports include Boston; Astoria, Oregon; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Kodiak, Seward, and Sitka, Alaska.
The FRC is an operational “game-changer,” according to senior Coast Guard officials. FRCs are consistently being deployed in support of the full range of missions within the United States Coast Guard and other branches of our armed services. Bollinger Shipyards LLC has a 75-year legacy as a leading designer and builder of high-performance military patrol boats and salvage vessels, research vessels, ocean-going double hull barges, offshore oil field support vessels, tugboats, rigs, lift boats, inland waterways push boats, barges, and other steel and aluminum products from its new construction shipyards as part of the U. S. maritime defense industrial base. Bollinger has 11 shipyards, all strategically located throughout Louisiana with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River, and the Intracoastal Waterway. Bollinger is the largest vessel repair company in the Gulf of Mexico region.