USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722)

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USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722)
USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722)
Official Photo: Morgenthau off Governors Island in New York Harbor circa 1970; lower Manhattan is seen in the background. The twin towers of the World Trade Center and 55 Water Street are all seen under construction.
Career (United States)
Namesake: Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
Builder: Avondale Shipyards
Commissioned: 10 March 1969
Homeport: Honolulu, Hawaii
Motto: Decus Pacifici
Pride of the Pacific
Status: Active
USCGC Morgenthau crest.jpg
Morgenthau‍ '​s Crest
General characteristics
Class and type: Hamilton-class cutter
Displacement: 3,250 tons
Length: 378 ft (115 m)
Beam: 43 ft (13 m)
Draught: 15 ft (4.6 m)
Propulsion: 2 × Diesel engines
2 × Gas turbine engines
Speed: 29 knots (53.7 km/h)
Range: 14,000 mi (22,531 km)
Endurance: 45 days
Complement: 160 (20 officers; 140 enlisted)
Sensors and
processing systems:
AN/SPS-40 air-search radar
Armament: Otobreda 76 mm main gun
Phalanx CIWS radar-guided Gatling gun
25 mm M242 Bushmaster autocannons
M2 Browning .50 Cal. machine guns
M240 light machine guns
various small arms.

The United States Coast Guard cutter USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722) is the eighth of twelve 378-foot dual-powered turbine/diesel Hamilton-class high endurance cutters (WHECs) built by Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Coast Guard commissioned the Morgenthau military high endurance cutter on March 10, 1969.

As of November 2013 Morgenthau is homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii, at Sand Island, a small island within Honolulu's city limits.[1][2] The cutter currently patrols from South America to the Bering Sea, conducting counter-narcotics missions, alien migrant interdiction operations, foreign and domestic fisheries enforcement, and search and rescue.

In the 1960s-1970s the "jet-powered" Hamilton-class cutters were state-of-the-art, technologically innovative, and the pride of the Coast Guard cutter fleet. However, in 2011 the Coast Guard acknowledged Hamilton class cutters have exceeded service life and stated the Coast Guard is making steady progress in replacing its 12 Hamilton Class cutters with eight National Security Cutters.[3]

At the time, the most distinctive aspect of the Hamilton-class cutters were its twin turbine engines capable of propelling the cutter from 0 to 30+ knots in 60 seconds (and with its large variable-pitch propellers, coming to a full stop equally fast) Due to the Cold War, Hamilton-class cutters were configured for anti-submarine warfare (ASW): the ability to find, track, and damage or destroy enemy submarines.

Each ship has a helicopter flight deck, and retractable hangar within which to store a helicopter for missions. Other features noteworthy at the time included a variable-pitch propeller, and bow thruster allowing the ship to berth horizontally to a dock. The cutter has comfortable quarters, and the capability to stay at sea for 45 days.

Over its long, distinguished 43-year career (1969- ) Morgenthau has received numerous awards, commendations, and unit citations, including a Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation in 1971 during the Vietnam War, Combat Action Ribbon to the 1971 Captain and crew, and multiple Battle "E" (Battle Effectiveness Award) for the ship's demonstrated excellence and superior achievement during certification and qualification competitions.

Since its 1969 commissioning Morgenthau has had two crests and unit motto (commonly referred to as "unit patches"). When commissioned, Morgenthau had a shield style crest, with the motto "Efficiency and Honor is Our Destiny."[4] When in 1977 Morgenthau moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and homeported in Alameda, the crest changed to a circular style with the Latin motto Decus Pacifici (although the Latin word decus can have different meanings, the US Coast Guard translates the motto as "Pride of the Pacific").[5][6]

Homeport History[edit]

When commissioned in 1969, Morgenthau homeported at Governors Island, New York.

In 1977 Morgenthau moved to the Pacific side of the United States and homeported at Integrated Support Command Alameda, Coast Guard Island, Alameda, California. The cutter homeported in Alameda until December 2012.[7]

In January 2013 Morgenthau sailed to her new homeport in Honolulu, Hawaii after a December 13, 2012, hull swap with the crew of the USCGC Jarvis (WHEC-725), Jarvis slated for decommissioning and transfer to a foreign navy. (In naval terminology a "hull swap" is an operation where the entire crew of a ship transfers from one ship to another similar ship.)

Replacement by National Security Cutters; Transfer to Foreign Navies[edit]

Despite the Hamilton-class cutters undergoing Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization ("FRAM") up to the early 1990s, Morgenthau and her 11 sister Hamilton-class cutters are gradually being replaced by the 418-foot Legend-class National Security Cutter (eight total). The Coast Guard stated the National Security Cutters are better equipped, have a reduced radar signature, and are more durable, safer, and efficient than the 1960s Hamilton-class ships. Compare Morgenthau with USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750), a National Security Cutter homeported in Alameda, California.

In 2013 three National Security Cutters are in active service. An additional three NSCs are under construction at Ingalls Shipbuilding (NSCs Hamilton, James, and Munro). In June 2013 the US Coast Guard awarded an option contract to procure materials for construction of the Coast Guard's seventh National Security Cutter, the NSC Kimball.[8]

Under the Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Assistance Act, or other programs, decommissioned Hamilton-class cutters are being made available to foreign navies. As of November 2013 the following Hamilton-class cutters have been decommissioned and transferred to foreign navies: USCGC Chase (WHEC-718) to the Nigerian Navy as NNS Thunder (F90); USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715) to the Philippine Navy as BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15); USCGC Jarvis (WHEC-725) to the Bangladesh Navy as BNS Somudra Joy (F-28); USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716) to the Philippine Navy as BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16).[9]

Once acquired, some navies have designated the cutter a flagship; some receive significant rearmament, including missiles, guided cannons, radar, sonar, and ASW weaponry. For example, see the list of ships of the Bangladesh Navy: the BNS Somudra Joy will be armed with modern C-802A anti-ship-missiles, FM-90N SAM, torpedoes, and an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter. Also see discussion regarding the Philippine Navy's Hamilton-class acquisitions.

Operational Highlights, Vietnam War[edit]

Soon after its commissioning in 1970 the Morgenthau sailed to Vietnam for service in the US Navy's Operation Market Time. (Operation Market Time was the United State's successful operation to stop North Vietnamese ships and boats from infiltrating South Vietnam to supply weapons and munitions to North Vietnamese military, including the People's Army of Vietnam (aka "NVA" - North Vietnamese Army) and Viet Cong.)

Morgenthau was extremely active in the Vietnam War: its duties included boarding/inspection of ships and boats suspected of running guns, ammunition and supplies, naval gunfire support missions, providing medical care to Vietnamese villagers (MEDCAPS - civic action program), ferrying special forces soldiers on missions, and 24/7 patrol duties.[10]

From records compiled by then-Lieutenant Eugene N. Tulich, Commander, US Coast Guard (Ret), Morgenthau‍ '​s Vietnam numbers included: Miles cruised - 38,029 nautical miles (70,430 km; 43,763 mi); Percentage time underway - 72.8%; Junks/sampans detected/inspected/boarded - 2383/627/63; Enemy confirmed killed in action (KIA) 14; Structures destroyed/damaged - 32/37; Bunkers destroyed/damaged - 12/3; Waterborne craft destroyed/damaged - 7/3; Naval Gunfire Support Missions (NGFS) - 19; MEDCAPS (Medical Civic Action Program) - 25; Patients treated - 2676.

For exceptionally valorous action in combat, Morgenthau received a number of awards and commendations, including a Navy Unit Commendation when Morgenthau distinguished itself with outstanding heroism in action against the enemy. Morgenthau's actions included its multi-day undetected tracking and surveillance of a 160' North Vietnamese SL-8 trawler that attempted to resupply waiting North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong, and the April 11, 1971, destruction of that enemy ship when Morgenthau and other forces engaged in a two-hour battle against the ship, at the end of which the North Vietnamese SL-8 trawler suffered a massive explosion and disappeared from radar screens. For this and its other Vietnam service, the ship and Morgenthau‍ '​s crew were additionally awarded the Navy Combat Action Ribbon; Navy Unit Commendation; Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation; Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation; Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation; Vietnam Campaign Medal; and other awards.

Morgenthau served in Vietnam until July 19, 1971. On that date Morgenthau was relieved by the USCGC Cook Inlet (WAVP-384), a 311-foot Casco-class cutter.

In 1977, Morgenthau became the first Coast Guard cutter to have women permanently assigned, followed shortly thereafter by USCGC Mellon (WHEC-717).[11][12]

Morgenthau‍ '​s Pacific coast activities have included drug interdiction and seizures, foreign and domestic fisheries enforcement, search and rescue, and alien migrant interdiction.

In 1989, Morgenthau was decommissioned to undergo a major mid-life renovation under the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM). The cutter's FRAM included updating berthing and living spaces, rejuvenating engineering systems, and updating/modernizing major weapons and sensors. Upon recommissioning in 1991, Morgenthau resumed missions in the Pacific Ocean.

In the fall of 1996, Morgenthau was the first US Coast Guard Cutter to deploy to the Persian Gulf. Participating in Operation Vigilant Sentinel, Morgenthau enforced Iraq's compliance with United Nations sanctions.

After returning from the Persian Gulf, Morgenthau continued her Pacific duties, often deploying to the Maritime Boundary Line in the Bering Straits to monitor Alaska's valuable fisheries and environmental resources, as well as continued alien migrant and drug interdiction efforts off the coasts of Guam and Central and South America.

In early 2001 while on drug interdiction patrol off the coast of Mexico, Morgenthau seized $32 million worth of cocaine.

Also in 2001, during a fisheries patrol, Morgenthau's deployed helicopter discovered a Russian vessel fishing in US waters. When the vessel refused to heave to and allow a Coast Guard law enforcement team aboard, Morgenthau pursued the vessel across the Bering Sea and up to Russian territorial seas. This resulted in a joint US-Russian law enforcement action, which further cemented cooperative law enforcement actions between the two nations.

Morgenthau in May 2007 sailing out to sea under the Golden Gate Bridge

Later in 2001, during an extensive dry-dock period, Morgenthau was the first 378-foot cutter to install a stern flap, improving fuel efficiency and ride quality. Because of the increased fuel efficiency, Morgenthau has never since been able to complete full power trials on turbines, as she reaches her maximum speed at a shaft horse power significantly lower than other ships in her class.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11th, Morgenthau participated in Operation Noble Eagle to safeguard America's prominent port cities through closer scrutiny of maritime traffic.

In 2002, Morgenthau traveled to Southeast Asia to assist, train, and teach law enforcement techniques to naval forces of several nations in the East Asian littoral.

In November 2010, Morgenthau provided an emergency escort along with medical and security assistance to passengers stranded aboard the cruise ship Carnival Splendor, which was rendered inoperable in the Pacific Ocean by an engine fire.[13]

In January 2013 Morgenthau arrived in its new home port in Honolulu, Hawaii. Morgenthau replaced Hamilton-class cutter USCGC Jarvis (WHEC-725), the Jarvis having been decommissioned from the U.S. fleet, and transferred to the Bangladesh Navy under the Foreign Military Sales program.

In spring of 2015 "Morgenthau" entered dry-dock in Oakland, CA at Bay Ship & Yacht Co. for repairs [14]


  1. ^ "U.S. Coast Guard Base Honolulu". Retrieved November 11, 2013. [unreliable source?]
  2. ^ "Morgenthau - Welcome aboard!". Retrieved November 13, 2013. [unreliable source?]
  3. ^ "2011 U.S. Coast Guard Budget and Oversight Hearing". 
  4. ^ "United States Coast Guard Patch Archive". Wess Wessling. 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Morgenthau Crest". USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722). September 13, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Decus". Google translate. 
  7. ^ "WPGs & WHECs: 1945-2010". USCG Historian's Office. January 26, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Coast Guard Christens 4th National Security Cutter". Military News (Press release). United States Coast Guard. October 28, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ "US hands over naval ship". Bangladesh News. May 24, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  10. ^ Tulich, Eugene N. (January 26, 2012). "The United States Coast Guard in South East Asia During the Vietnam Conflict". USCG Historian's Office. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Morgenthau History". USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722). November 8, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  12. ^ "CGC Mellon History". USCGC Mellon (WHEC-717). September 9, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  13. ^ Young, Stephanie (10 November 2010). "Coast Guard response to Carnival Splendor continues". Coast Guard Compass. Retrieved 11 November 2010.