Medium endurance cutter

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The Medium endurance cutter or WMEC is a type of United States Coast Guard cutter mainly consisting of the 270-foot Famous- and 210-foot Reliance-class cutters. These larger cutters are under control of Area Commands (Atlantic Area or Pacific Area).[1] These cutters have adequate accommodations for crew to live on board[1] and can do 6 to 8 week patrols.[2]

Other ships in the classification are the 282-foot (86 m) USCGC Alex Haley, and the now-decommissioned 213-foot (65 m) USCGC Acushnet, and 230-foot (70 m) USCGC Storis.[3]

There are 13 vessels in the 'Famous' class, and 14 vessels still in active US service in the 'Reliance' class. The Coast Guard plans to eventually phase out the vessels in both of these cutter classes and replace them with the Offshore Patrol Cutter as part of the Integrated Deepwater System Program.[4]

History[edit]

After World War II, the Coast Guard used the US Navy hull classification system. The large, sea-going cutters were classified primarily as Coast Guard gunboats (WPG), destroyer escorts (WDE), and seaplane tenders (WAVP). In 1965 the Coast Guard adopted its own designation system and these large cutters were then referred to as Coast Guard High Endurance Cutters (WHEC). The coastal cutters once known as Cruising Cutters, Second Class and then as Coast Guard patrol craft (WPC) were now Coast Guard Medium Endurance Cutters (WMEC)."[5]

Famous-class cutter[edit]

Ship processing system

Famous class
Famous-class cutter USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910)
Famous-class cutter USCGC Thetis (WMEC-910)
Class overview
Builders: Robert Derecktor Shipyard Inc., Middletown, Rhode Island
Tacoma Boatbuilding Company, Tacoma, Washington
Operators: United States Coast Guard
Built: 1979–1989
In commission: 1983–present
Completed: 13
Active: 13
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,800 long tons (1,829 t)
Length: 270 ft (82 m)
Beam: 38 ft (12 m)
Draft: 14 ft 5 in (4.39 m)
Installed power: 2 × Caterpillar V12 diesel generators
Propulsion: 2 × turbo-charged ALCO V-18 diesel engines
2 × 9-foot-diameter (2.7 m) controllable pitch propellers
Speed: 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph)
Range: 9,900 nmi (18,300 km; 11,400 mi)
Complement: 100 (14 officers, 86 enlisted)
Sensors and
processing systems:
FCS MK 92 Mod 1
Armament: 1 × OTO Melara Mk 75 76 mm/62 caliber naval gun
2 × .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns
Aviation facilities: Helipad

The Famous-class vessels have hull numbers in the range from WMEC-901 through WMEC-913. Entering service in the 1980s, the Famous-class cutters were designed as replacements for the 327-foot (100 m) Treasury-class cutters, and their mission profile emphasized law enforcement, particularly patrolling the newly established 200-mile (320 km) exclusive economic zone.[5]

The Coast Guard is harvesting weapons systems components from decommissioned Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates to save money. Harvesting components from four frigates results in more than $24 million in cost savings, which increases with parts from more decommissioned frigates. Equipment such as Mk 75, 76 mm/62 caliber gun mounts, gun control panels, barrels, launchers, junction boxes, and other components will be returned to service aboard Famous-class cutters in order to extend their service lives into the 2030s.[6]

Ships in class[edit]

Famous class
Hull Number Name Status
WMEC-901 Bear Active
WMEC-902 Tampa Active
WMEC-903 Harriet Lane Active
WMEC-904 Northland Active
WMEC-905 Spencer Active
WMEC-906 Seneca Active
WMEC-907 Escanaba Active
WMEC-908 Tahoma Active
WMEC-909 Campbell Active
WMEC-910 Thetis Active
WMEC-911 Forward Active
WMEC-912 Legare Active
WMEC-913 Mohawk Active

Reliance-class cutter[edit]

Reliance class
Reliance-class cutter USCGC Reliance (WMEC-615)
Class overview
Builders: Todd Shipyards, Houston, Texas
American Ship Building Company, Lorain, Ohio]
U.S. Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Maryland
Christy Corporation, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Operators: United States Coast Guard
Sri Lanka Navy
Colombian Navy Coast Guard
Built: 1962–1968
In commission: 1964–present
Completed: 16
Active: 16
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,127.2 long tons (1,145 t) full load
Length: 210 ft 6 in (64.16 m) LOA
200 ft (61 m) LWL
Beam: 34 ft (10 m)
Draft: 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m)
Propulsion: 2 × 2,500 hp (1,864 kW) ALCO 251B diesel engines
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi)
at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 75
Armament: 1 × 25mm Mk 38 autocannon
2 × M2HB .50 caliber (12.7mm) machine guns
Aviation facilities: Helipad

The Reliance-class vessels have hull numbers in the range from WMEC-615 through WMEC-630. Entering service between 1964 and 1969, the Reliance-class cutters were meant to replace the 165-foot (50 m) cutters of the Prohibition era and were the first major cutter replacement project since the 255-foot (78 m) Owasco-class cutters from World War II.[5]

The 210s (210-foot cutters) received upgrades and modifications (in a program named "Midlife Maintenance Availability" or MMA) during the 1986 through 1990 time period. The "A" class cutters had their gas turbines removed, and all 210s had their stern transom exhaust systems replaced with a traditional stack. While this modification reduced the size of the flight deck, they were still more than capable of carrying out helicopter operations. Other modifications included enlarging the superstructure area, replacing the main armament, and increasing the fire-fighting capability of the cutters. The modifications cost approximately $20 million per cutter, well above their original cost of about $3.5 million each.[5]

Ships in class[edit]

Reliance class
Hull Number Name Status
WMEC-615 Reliance Active
WMEC-616 Diligence Active
WMEC-617 Vigilant Active
WMEC-618 Active Active
WMEC-619 Confidence Active
WMEC-620 Resolute Active
WMEC-621 Valiant Active
WMEC-622 Courageous Decommissioned
WMEC-623 Steadfast Active
WMEC-624 Dauntless Active
WMEC-625 Venturous Active
WMEC-626 Dependable Active
WMEC-627 Vigorous Active
WMEC-628 Durable Decommissioned
WMEC-629 Decisive Active
WMEC-630 Alert Active

Courageous was decommissioned on 19 September 2001. She was transferred to the government of Sri Lanka on 24 June 2004 as SLNS Samudura (P-621).

Durable was decommissioned on 20 September 2001. In 2003 she was transferred to the Coast Guard of the Colombian Navy as ARC Valle del Cauca (PO-44).

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Famous-class cutter
Reliance-class cutter
USCGC Diligence (WMEC-616) in 1965. Note the lack of exhaust stacks and the exhaust ports at the waterline on the transom on the original design. Reliance class cutters would have stacks added during future overhauls.