USCGC Munro (WHEC-724)
USCGC Munro (WHEC-724)
|Namesake:||Douglas Albert Munro|
|Operator:||United States Coast Guard|
|Commissioned:||September 27, 1971|
|Motto:||Honoring the Past by Serving the Present|
|Type:||High Endurance Cutter|
|Length:||378 ft (115 m)|
|Beam:||43 ft (13 m)|
|Draught:||15 ft (4.6 m)|
|Propulsion:||Two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines|
|AN/SPS-40 air-search radar|
|Armament:||Otobreda 76 mm, Phalanx CIWS, six M2HB 12.7mm Heavy Machine Guns|
|Aviation facilities:||Helicopter pad, Retractable hangar bay|
USCGC Munro (WHEC-724) is a High Endurance Cutter of the United States Coast Guard, named for Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro (1919–1942), the only Coast Guardsman to be awarded the Medal of Honor. The vessel is currently commanded by Samuel R. Jordan (May 2015 – Present), and as of September 4, 2007 is stationed in Kodiak, Alaska.
Munro was commissioned on September 27, 1971, at Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tenth of twelve 378-foot (115 m) cutters, she was the first to be named after a Coast Guard hero. The previously commissioned 378-footers had been named for former secretaries of the Treasury, a tradition that began in 1830 when a cutter was named for Alexander Hamilton.
Secretary of Transportation John A. Volpe and Douglas Munro's mother, Edith, were on hand to commission the Munro. The ship's original complement included 17 officers and 143 enlisted men, under the command of the ship's first Commanding Officer, Captain John T. Rouse.
The dedication of the ship took place on April 15, 1972, at Munro's first homeport of Boston, Massachusetts. Secretary Volpe was once again on hand, retelling the story of Douglas Munro and reminding the crew of the honor they had to bear the name of that hero. While operating out of Boston, the ship's original missions included ocean station patrol and search and rescue.
The stay in Boston was not to last long, however, as the Munro shifted to a new homeport of Seattle, Washington, on August 29, 1973. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer hailed the arrival of "Two (Munro and Boutwell) of the newest, finest ships in the Coast Guard fleet." Seattle was also especially receptive to the Munro because Douglas Munro himself had been a resident of Cle Elum, a small town in Washington State. While operating out of Seattle, the Munro became more active in the fisheries enforcement mission and less active in the ocean station mission, which was quickly being made obsolete by technological advances. Alaskan fisheries were especially busy and controversial at this time. In 1971, for instance, the combined Japanese, Russian, Canadian, and South Korean fishing fleets had caught about ten times as many fish as the U.S. fleet did. Coast Guard action was badly needed to regulate the practices of these foreign fleets. Munro performed this mission admirably and with many successes, including the seizure of the Korean longliner Dong Won No. 51 in June 1979.
In 1980, the ship moved to yet another new homeport: Honolulu, Hawaii. While conducting training with the Japan Coast Guard in 1983 the Munro was called upon to aid in the rescue and salvage operations for Korean Air Flight 007 in the Sea of Japan. In 1986, Munro interdicted the motor vessel Line Island Trader, which had been attempting to enter the U.S. with 4.5 tons of marijuana. Later that same year, the ship underwent an extensive three-year Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) program. Weapons systems were upgraded and many portions of the cutter were remodeled. Upon being re-commissioned in November 1989, Munro was homeported at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, California.
1990s and 2000s
In 1997, the cutter seized the Russian fishing trawler Chernyayevo in the Bering Sea for violation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act of 1976, setting an important precedent for law enforcement along the U.S./Russia maritime boundary. In 1998, Munro intercepted the Chinese vessel Chih Yung, carrying 172 people attempting to illegally enter the U.S. In 1999, the cutter interdicted the fishing vessel Eduardo I, carrying 83 illegal Ecuadorian migrants. Also in 1998, Munro interdicted the Mexican vessel Xolescuintle, seizing 11.5 tons of cocaine, one of the largest drug seizures in Coast Guard history. In 1999, the cutter seized the motor vessel Wing Fung Lung, carrying 259 illegal Chinese migrants. In 2003, the cutter interdicted the fishing vessel Candy I with 4 tons of cocaine. In 2003, the cutter interdicted two "go-fast" boats with 2 tons of cocaine using warning shots across the bow of one with an MH-68 "Stingray" Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON). The other was dead reckoned based on its course and speed while Munro was on turbines for 16hrs before interdicting the second. The second "go-fast" then proceeded to light itself on fire to destroy the bales on board the vessel, but Munro 's crew quickly sank the vessel and later recovered approx 139 bales of cocaine. Four traffickers were recovered with two needing medical assistance from the Munro's Corpsman.
From December 2004 to June 2005, Munro operated in the Persian Gulf with the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group. During the Out of Hemisphere patrol Munro contributed in the relief efforts of the 2004 tsunami providing food and water to Indonesia and later seizing a vessel overtaken by pirates off the Horn of Africa. In 2006 the cutter interdicted two "go-fast" boats working in tandem with 2 tons of cocaine using disabling shots with an MH-68 "Stingray" Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON).
On March 23, 2008, the Munro served a vital role in rescuing the survivors of the FV Alaska Ranger when it sank 180 miles (290 km) west of Dutch Harbor. The Munro deployed its HH-65 Dolphin helicopter to the sinking site, and received 20 of the surviving fishermen. The story of this rescue is detailed in Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History by Kalee Thompson. As Aviation Week & Space Technology states, "The USCG deems the operation the largest cold-water rescue in its history."
The Munro also made an appearance in an episode of the Discovery Channel series Deadliest Catch, conducting search and rescue operations following the loss of the fishing vessel Ocean Challenger. The Munro continues to serve in the surrounding area. It was also featured in the BBC series Full Circle with Michael Palin in 1997, as the presenter was on the ship at the end of his documentary circumnavigation of the Pacific Rim.
- United States Coast Guard (2012-01-26). "Meet the Commanding Officer". Retrieved 2012-02-25.
- Crowley, Jack. "USCGC Munro And The Korean Airliner (KAL-007)". Retrieved 2007-05-30.
- Bernton, Hal; Perry, Nick (24 March 2008). "Ship sinks at sea; 4 dead, 1 lost". Seattle Times. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
- Thompson, Kalee (2010). Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History. New York: William Morrow. ISBN 978-0-06-176629-9.
- Aviation Week & Space Technology 12 January 2009, "Laureates 2009", p. 57