Hawaii Receives Second Sentinel-class Coast Guard Cutter
HONOLULU — The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) arrived in Honolulu Feb. 4 becoming the second of three 154-foot fast-response cutters (FRCs) stationed in Hawaii, the 14th Coast Guard District said in a release.
The cutters are designed to patrol coastal regions and feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, including the ability to launch and recover standardized small boats from the stern. Joseph Gerczak will primarily serve the main Hawaiian Islands.
Joseph Gerczak, the cutter’s namesake, was killed while defending USS LST 66 from Japanese bombers during an American assault on Borgen Bay in New Britain, Dec. 26, 1943. Gerczak was the first to react when the enemy bombing began and shot down two of the attackers before he was fatally wounded by shrapnel from an explosion. By his expert marksmanship, unwavering perseverance and courage in the face of tremendous odds, he contributed to the success of this and previous assault and reinforcement landings during the New Guinea Campaign. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star as well as a presidential unit commendation awarded to the crew of LST 66 for their actions in the battle.
The Coast Guard is acquiring 58 FRCs to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. The FRCs are designed for missions including search and rescue; fisheries enforcement; drug and migrant interdiction; ports, waterways and coastal security; and national defense. The Coast Guard took delivery of Joseph Gerczak Nov. 9 in Key West, Fla. The crew then transited more than 8,400 miles to Hawaii.
There will be three FRCs stationed at Coast Guard Base Honolulu by the spring 2019. These cutters, with their improved effectiveness in search and rescue, will make the waters around the main Hawaiian Islands a safer place for recreational boaters and users of the waterway. They improve the Coast Guard’s on-water presence with each providing more than 7,500 operational hours, a 40 percent increase over the 110-foot patrol boats.
A commissioning ceremony is scheduled March 9.