The Coast Guard commissioned its 20th fast response cutter (FRC), Coast Guard Cutter Lawrence Lawson, at the vessel’s Cape May, New Jersey, homeport March 18. The cutter is the second FRC based in the Coast Guard 5th District; the first, Coast Guard Cutter Rollin Fritch, was commissioned in November 2016.
The FRC’s namesake, Lawrence Lawson, served as keeper of the Evanston, Illinois, lifeboat station and led the rescue of 18 crewmembers from the foundering steam vessel Calumet on Nov. 28, 1889. After unsuccessfully attempting to fire a rescue line in icy conditions, Lawson launched a surfboat and led his crew on three trips through the breakers to fully evacuate the ship. For his leadership, Lawson received the Gold Lifesaving Medal on Oct. 17, 1890.
The Sentinel-class FRC is designed for multiple missions, including ports, waterways and coastal security; drug and migrant interdiction; fishery patrols; search and rescue; and national defense. The 154-foot cutter features improved seakeeping and habitability; the ability to launch and recover standardized cutter boats from astern or via side davits; and advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment. The FRCs, which are replacing the 1980s-era 110-foot Island-class patrol boats, also feature an endurance of five days and can reach a maximum speed of over 28 knots.
The Lawrence Lawson and crew are homeported in Cape May, where they will perform multiple Coast Guard missions along the Mid-Atlantic coast such as law enforcement, search and rescue and protecting America’s infrastructure from New Jersey to North Carolina.
The 154 foot patrol craft USCGC LAWRENCE LAWSON is the 20th vessel in the Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class FRC program, and the second FRC to be stationed at Cape May, NJ. The decision to homeport these vessels at Cape May, NJ is significant because it expands the footprint of FRC operations beyond the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Previous cutters have been stationed in the 7th Coast Guard District in Florida or San Juan, PR. To build the FRC, Bollinger used a proven, in-service parent craft design based on the Damen Stan Patrol Boat 4708. It has a flank speed of 28 knots, state of the art command, control, communications and computer technology, and a stern launch system for the vessel’s 26 foot cutter boat. The FRC has been described as an operational “game changer,” by senior Coast Guard officials.
The Coast Guard took delivery on the 20th of October, 2016 in Key West, Florida.