The Revenue Cutter Lawrence, safely escorted in by Native Hawaiians in outrigger canoes, made history as the first Coast Guard crew to sail into Honolulu Harbor in 1849. This entry and escort not only exemplifies local customs, but also demonstrates the Coast Guard’s effort in establishing positive relationships with the communities we serve. For the next 90 years, vessels from the West Coast regularly patrolled the Pacific, and in 1939 the 14th District was created. That commitment improved in 2017 as Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry and Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak, both 154-foot Fast Response Cutters, joined the fleet in Hawaii.
In July, Oliver Berry’s crew set a new milestone by deploying over the horizon to the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The 4,400 nautical mile trip marked marking the furthest deployment of an FRC to date for the Coast Guard and is the first deployment of its kind in the Pacific.
“This expeditionary deployment of an FRC more than 2,000 miles forward can be a game-changer for the Coast Guard in how we employ our forces across the broad spectrum of Coast Guard missions,” said Capt. Robert Hendrickson, chief of response of the Coast Guard’s 14th District. “We are thinking outside the box on how we bring our capabilities to the very places that need them most. Our new FRC’s ability to respond further offshore into U.S. waters where we have previously been challenged to do so, as well as support our regional partners in their adjacent sovereign waters underscores the relevance of the Coast Guard and the United States’ commitment to our partners and allies in the Central Pacific. I am excited about this new development and look to see this type of expeditionary deployment emulated elsewhere in the Coast Guard.”
The FRCs are the mainstay of the Coast Guard’s recapitalized coastal patrol fleet, providing multi-mission capabilities and interagency interoperability. These cutters feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment; over-the-horizon cutter boat employment to reach vessels of interest; and improved habitability and sea-keeping characteristics. They are crewed by 24 members eager to conduct Coast Guard operations and serve the residents and mariners of the Pacific.
“This was an exciting and challenging opportunity to demonstrate how the Coast Guard’s new Fast Response Cutters can extend multinational fisheries enforcement regimes throughout the Western and Central Pacific,” said Lt. Ken Franklin, commanding officer of Oliver Berry. “My crew performed superbly. I could not be more proud of them, their enthusiasm, and their dedication to ensuring the cutter’s safe transit to and from the Marshall Islands. We all greatly enjoyed the opportunity to share the capabilities of our cutter with our partners in the Marshall Island’s government and the general public in Majuro, and are excited about the ability to return to the Marshall Islands.”
During the patrol, crewmembers from Oliver Berry transferred personnel from the Republic of the Marshall Islands Ship (RMIS), Lomor 03, off Kwajalein Atoll en route to Majuro Atoll, to tour each other’s vessels and share experiences and knowledge. Once in Majuro, the Oliver Berry crew volunteered time to paint and clean up a park with local children. They also hosted tours aboard the cutter and visited with the U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Karen B. Stewart as they celebrated July 4th. The U.S. presence in Majuro dates back more than three decades. The office of the U.S. Representative opened in Majuro Oct. 21, 1986, demonstrating the U.S. commitment to being a reliable partner and upgraded to an embassy Sept. 6, 1989.