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Coast Guard commissions sixth national security cutter

Apr 3, 2017 10:05 AM

Munro will be home-ported in California and operate from South America to Alaska

The cutter Munro enters Elliott Bay on its way to Seattle on March 29.

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

The cutter Munro enters Elliott Bay on its way to Seattle on March 29.

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(SEATTLE) — The Coast Guard cutter Munro (WMSL 755), the military service’s newest national security cutter (NSC), was commissioned into service in Seattle on Saturday.

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 his 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,” said Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly. “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 U.S. Coast Guard.”

Munro was commissioned in Seattle to honor the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient, Signalman 1st Class Douglas A. Munro (1919-1942), who is buried in the veterans’ section of Laurel Hill Memorial Park in Cle Elum. Naming of the sixth NSC in honor of the former South Cle Elum resident pays tribute to Munro’s heroism and legacy.

Munro was mortally wounded in action in the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II while providing covering fire during the evacuation of a detachment of 500 U.S. Marines who were under attack. Read more about, his actions here:

“National security cutters are state-of-the-art platforms that can operate seamlessly within the Navy’s fleet and leverage our unique authorities to push our maritime borders thousands of miles beyond the homeland in order to ensure our national security and prosperity,” said Zukunft. “Our nation faces significant threats posed by violent transnational organized crime networks and the men and women of the Coast Guard are on the front lines of this fight. With ‘Gallantry in Action’ as the cutter’s motto, I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to Douglas Munro’s legacy than to name our armed service’s newest asset after our only Medal of Honor recipient.”

New assets such as the national security cutter, the offshore patrol cutter and the fast response cutter will be heavily involved in combating transnational organized crime networks. Since the first operational deployment of a national security cutter in fiscal year 2009, three NSCs (Waesche, Bertholf and Stratton) removed more than 98 metric tons of cocaine worth an estimated $2.9 billion wholesale combined. 

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 support to U.S. combatant commanders. NSCs are 418 feet in length, 54 feet in beam and 4,600 long tons in displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can hold a crew of up to 150. These new cutters are replacing the aging high endurance Hamilton class cutters (378 feet) that have been in service since the 1960s.

Munro will routinely conduct operations from South America to the Bering Sea where the cutter’s combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provide it the mission flexibility necessary to conduct alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, counter-narcotics and homeland security operations at great distances from shore, keeping threats far from the U.S. mainland.

"The opportunity to command the Munro is an honor and one of the best experiences I’ve had as a cutterman,” said Capt. Thomas King, commanding officer of Munro. “I’ve witnessed the crew report as individuals from different units and form together as a cohesive crew. The crew worked and trained to ensure both they and the Munro were prepared to operate and sail to Seattle for the commissioning. Their efforts paid off with the rescue of three people in the Pacific and the seizure of nearly $5 million of cocaine, which are unprecedented results for a cutter in a pre-commissioning phase. This crew is worthy of bearing the honor of being Munro plankowners."

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 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 home-ported on the West Coast in Alameda, Calif.

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