Hamilton-class cutter

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USCG photo of USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715)
USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715), lead ship of the Hamilton class
Class overview
NameHamilton class
BuildersAvondale Shipyards
OperatorsSee Operators
Preceded byTreasury-class cutter
Succeeded byLegend-class cutter[1]
In commission1967–present
Retired12  United States Coast Guard
General characteristics
TypeHigh endurance cutter
Displacement3,250 metric tons
Length378 ft (115 m)
Beam43 ft (13 m)
Draft15 ft (4.6 m)
Installed power
  • 2 × 550KW GM 8-645 diesel generators
  • 1 × 500KW Solar Model 101506-2001 gas generator
Speed29 kn (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Range14,000 nmi (26,000 km; 16,000 mi)
Endurance45 days
Complement167 and can carry up to 186
Sensors and
processing systems
Electronic warfare
& decoys
2 × MK 36 SRBOC launcher system
Aircraft carried1 × MH-65 Helicopter
Aviation facilitiesFlight deck and Hangar
Rush, circa 1985, with the older 5-inch/38 gun, lacking radar and Phalanx CIWS upgrades.

The Hamilton-class cutter was the largest class of vessel in the United States Coast Guard until replaced by the Legend-class cutter, aside from the Polar-class icebreaker. The hull classification symbol is prefixed WHEC. The cutters are called the Hamilton class after their lead ship, or the "Secretary class" because most of the vessels in the class were named for former Secretaries of the Treasury, with the exception of the "Hero-class cutters" Jarvis, Munro and Midgett.


The Hamilton-class cutters were designed to be a highly versatile platform capable of performing various operations, including maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, oceanographic research, and defense operations.[2] Because of their endurance and capabilities, the Hamilton-class cutters commonly deployed with Carrier Battle Groups.[3] They were built with a welded steel hull and aluminum superstructure. The Hamilton-class cutters' hull was designed with a V cross section, and through tank testing the hull was expected to survive and stay afloat longer after suffering damage.[4]

They are powered by a Combined Diesel or Gas (CODOG) system consisting of two diesel engines and two gas turbines, and have controllable-pitch propellers. They were the first U.S. military vessels with combination diesel or gas turbine operation. They were equipped with a helicopter flight deck, retractable hangar, and the facilities to support helicopter deployment.

Combat Suite[edit]

The Hamilton-class cutters were designed and built during the Cold War. Due to this they were originally equipped for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), with the capability to find, track and destroy enemy submarines.[5] When constructed, they were armed with a 5"/38 naval gun, two 81 mm mortars, two .50 caliber machine guns, two MK 10 Hedgehogs, two MK 32 torpedo tube systems, and Nixie torpedo countermeasures.

During the 1980s and 1990s the cutters were modernized under the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) program. The FRAM program replaced the 5"/38 gun with the MK 75 76 mm naval gun, upgraded the MK 32 Surface Vessel Torpedo Tubes to Mod 7, installed MK 36 SRBOC launchers and the AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare suite, and upgraded the cutters' sonar and their air and surface search radars.[6] During the modernization of the cutters the U.S. Navy saw the program as a low cost and easy way to use the cutters as a valuable force multiplier with trained crews that could be called upon during war.[7]

After the completion of FRAM, a joint Navy/USCG board decided further upgrades to the cutters' armament would be implemented, including the installation of Harpoon anti-ship missiles and a MK 15 Phalanx CIWS. The Harpoon anti-ship missiles were fitted to multiple cutters of the class but only one cutter, the USCGC Mellon, ever fired a Harpoon missile, in January 1990.[8] After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the joint Navy/USCG board decided there was no military threat to require the installation of anti-ship missiles and anti-submarine weapons on board cutters, and removed the weapons.[9]

After the removal of the ASW weapons, the Coast Guard installed MK 38 25 mm chain guns on both sides of each cutter. The Hamilton-class cutters were equipped with the Coast Guard's SeaWatch command and control system, which combined navigational, tactical, surveillance and communications into one situational awareness picture, replacing the cutters' outdated Shipboard Command and Control System.[10] Missile defense was handled by the MK 36 launchers and the Phalanx CIWS.


The 378-foot WHEC cutter program which created the Hamilton class was initiated in the 1960s. The Hamilton-class cutters were intended to fulfill both the peacetime and wartime requirements of the Coast Guard.[11] Construction at Avondale Shipyards on the lead ship, the Hamilton, began in the 1960s and the cutter was commissioned on March 18, 1967. Originally the Coast Guard planned to build 36 Hamilton-class cutters. Due to the termination of the ocean stations program, they reduced the number of planned cutters to 12.[12]

During the Vietnam War multiple Hamilton-class cutters supported Operation Market Time. The cutters patrolled the South Vietnamese coastline, boarded and inspected suspected North Vietnamese and Viet Cong vessels, conducted naval gunfire support missions, and provided medical assistance to Vietnamese civilians.[13] Throughout their service Hamilton-class participated in other conflicts and military operations such as Operation Urgent Fury, Operation Vigilant Sentinel, Operation Deny Flight, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.[14][15][16]

Beginning in the 1980s and ending in 1992, the entire class was modernized through the FRAM program. The program included updates and changes to the cutters weapons, sensors, the addition of a helicopter hangar, engine overhauls, and improved habitability.

Cutters Midgett and Munro were renamed to John Midgett and Douglas Munro to allow the new Legend-class cutters Midgett and Munro to assume the former names of the two Hamilton-class cutters.

In March 2007, cutters Hamilton and Sherman intercepted the Panamanian-flagged fishing vessel Gatun in international waters and recovered 20 metric tons (20 long tons) of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $600 million retail. The seizure was at that time the largest at-sea drug bust in US history.[17]

Ships in class[edit]

Ship Name Hull No. Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
Hamilton WHEC-715 Avondale Shipyards January 1965 18 December 1965 18 March 1967 28 March 2011 Transferred to the Philippine Navy on 13 May 2011 as BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15)
Dallas WHEC-716 7 February 1966 1 October 1966 11 March 1968 30 March 2012 Transferred to the Philippine Navy on 22 May 2012 as BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16)[18]
Mellon WHEC-717 25 July 1966 11 February 1967 9 January 1968 20 August 2020 Earmarked for transfer to Vietnam Coast Guard, likely become CSB 8022
Chase WHEC-718 26 October 1966 20 May 1967 11 March 1968 29 March 2011 Transferred to Nigerian Navy on 13 May 2011 as the NNS Thunder (F90)
Boutwell WHEC-719 12 December 1966 17 June 1967 24 June 1968 16 March 2016 Transferred to the Philippine Navy on 21 July 2016 as BRP Andrés Bonifacio (PS-17)
Sherman WHEC-720 25 January 1967 3 September 1968 23 August 1968 29 March 2018 Transferred to the Sri Lanka Navy on 27 August 2018, recommissioned 6 June 2019 as SLNS Gajabahu (P626)[19][20]
Gallatin WHEC-721 17 April 1967 18 November 1967 20 December 1968 31 March 2014 Transferred to Nigerian Navy on 7 May 2014 as NNS Okpabana (F93)[21]
Morgenthau WHEC-722 17 July 1967 10 February 1968 10 March 1969 18 April 2017 Transferred to Vietnam Coast Guard on 25 May 2017 as CSB 8020[22]
Rush WHEC-723 23 October 1967 16 November 1968 3 July 1969 3 February 2015 Transferred to the Bangladesh Navy on 6 May 2015 as BNS Somudra Avijan[23]
Douglas Munro WHEC-724 18 February 1970 5 December 1970 27 September 1971 24 April 2021 Transferred to the Sri Lanka Navy on 26 October 2021. Commissioned on 20 November 2022 as SLNS Vijayabahu (P627).[24]
Jarvis WHEC-725 9 September 1970 24 April 1971 4 August 1972 2 October 2012 Transferred to the Bangladesh Navy on 23 May 2013 as BNS Somudra Joy[25]
John Midgett WHEC-726 5 April 1971 4 September 1971 17 March 1972 June 2020 [26] Transferred to Vietnam Coast Guard on 1 June 2021 as CSB 8021[27]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reed, John (23 May 2011). "End of an Era, USCG Retiring Hamilton Class Cutters - Defensetech". Defensetech. Archived from the original on 3 September 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  2. ^ "WHEC 378' Hamilton class". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  3. ^ "THE CUTTERS, BOATS, AND AIRCRAFT OF THE U.S. COAST GUARD" (PDF). uscg.mil. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  4. ^ "HAMILTON (1967)" (PDF). media.defense.gov. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  5. ^ "The Morgenthau Experiment: Platform for progress". coastguard.dodlive.mil. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  6. ^ Coast Guard Oversight: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Navigation of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, House of Representatives. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1981. p. 87. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Mellon History". www.pacificarea.uscg.mil. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  8. ^ "Mellon History". www.pacificarea.uscg.mil. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  9. ^ "The History and Legacy of the United States Coast Guard Cutter BOUTWELL (WHEC 719)" (PDF). media.defense.gov. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Coast Guard Develops Indigenous Technologies for Cutters". www.afcea.org. March 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  11. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Authorizations: Hearings Before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1981. p. 22.
  12. ^ "Coast Guard Cutter Design" (PDF). media.defense.gov. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  13. ^ Tulich, Eugene N. (January 26, 2012). "The United States Coast Guard in South East Asia During the Vietnam Conflict". USCG Historian's Office. Archived from the original on November 11, 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  14. ^ "The U.S. Coast Guard in Grenada". www.navalhistory.org. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau to be decommissioned Tuesday". coastguardnews.com. Retrieved 20 October 2019. Morgenthau was the first U.S. Coast Guard cutter to deploy to the Persian Gulf. Participating in Operation Vigilant Sentinel,
  16. ^ "Guardians of the Gulf: A History of Coast Guard Combat Operations in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2002-2004" (PDF). media.defense.gov. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Coast Guard Seizes 43,000 Pounds of Cocaine". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Next Navy ship to be named after Corregidor hero". ABS-CBN News. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  19. ^ "USCG transfers decommissioned cutter to Sri Lanka". Archived from the original on 6 September 2018. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  20. ^ "President commissions U.S. Coast Guard Cutter given to Sri Lanka Navy as SLNS Gajabahu". ColomboPage. 6 June 2019. Archived from the original on 7 June 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  21. ^ Martin, Guy (8 May 2014). "Nigeria receives ex-US Coast Guard cutter Gallatin". defenceweb.co.za. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  22. ^ MarEx (25 May 2017). "U.S. Delivers Patrol Boats, Cutter to Vietnam". Maritime Executive. Archived from the original on 26 May 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  23. ^ ‘Somudra Avijan’ handed over to Bangladesh Navy Archived July 22, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Sri Lanka Navy takes delivery of Ex-USCGC Douglas Munro". 26 October 2021.
  25. ^ Mazumdar, Mrityunjoy (4 June 2013). "Former Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis Transferred to Growing Bangladesh Navy". defensemedianetwork.com. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  26. ^ "Alcoast 249/20 - Jun 2020 Uscgc John Midgett (Whec 726) 48 Years of Service".
  27. ^ "Bon Voyage, CSB 8021". Facebook. Retrieved 2021-07-21.

External links[edit]