Coast Guard Commissions Fast Response Cutter Nathan Bruckenthal
By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Coast Guard commissioned its newest fast response cutter (FRC), Nathan Bruckenthal, during a ceremony at Alexandria City Pier July 25, presided over by Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz.
The 28th FRC, the cutter honors Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal, who was killed while helping thwart a multi-vessel suicide attack on an oil terminal in the Persian Gulf in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was assigned to Law Enforcement Detachment 403 aboard the coastal patrol boat USS Firebolt at the time.
Two Navy Sailors died along with Bruckenthal when the dhow they were attempted to board exploded. Four members of the boarding team survived. For his courageous actions, Bruckenthal was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.During his remarks, Schultz spoke of Bruckenthal, and his family, as the embodiment of the Coast Guard ethos of “service above self,” and noted that the cutter’s motto, “virtus in proelio,” or “bravery in battle,” was symbolized by its namesake.
“It is a visible reminder of Nate’s courage and commitment,” said Schultz, who described Bruckenthal, the first member of the Coast Guard to die in combat since Vietnam, as “the first Coast Guard hero of the millennium.”
The cutter that now bears his name “will be an inspiration of all Coast Guard men and women,” the commandant said, and to the members of its initial crew he noted, “work hard, bring this ship to life and make us proud.”
Soon thereafter, Bruckenthal’s sister Noabeth, the ship’s sponsor, give the order to “lay aboard and bring this ship to life.”
Lt. Brian Kilcoin assumed command of the cutter during the ceremony, and said the crew was “ready for sea and eager to conduct our mission.”
Nathan Bruckenthal’s new homeport will be Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, where it will join the 27th FRC, Richard Snyder, which was commissioned in April.
Twelve of the cutters — all built by Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, Louisiana — are homeported in Florida, six in Puerto Rico, two in Alaska, two in New Jersey, two in Mississippi and two in Hawaii. The Coast Guard accepted delivery of the 29th FRC, Forrest Rednour, in Key West, Florida, on June 7. The cutter will be the first FRC stationed in San Pedro, California, and is expected to be commissioned in the fall. The Coast Guard has ordered 44 of the planned 58 FRCs.
The Sentinel-class FRCs feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment; the ability to launch and recover cutter boats from astern or via side davits; and improved seakeeping and habitability. Each FRC is 154 feet long, features an endurance of five days and can reach a maximum speed of over 28 knots.
During her remarks, 5th Coast Guard District Commander Rear Adm. Meredith Austin said she was happy to add another FRC to the district’s quiver of assets.“I am delighted by the capabilities that these cutters bring to bear in the district. They are proving themselves to be highly successful force multipliers,” she said.
Other speakers during the ceremony included Ben Bordelon, Bollinger president and CEO; Bob Montgomery, director of homeland security programs at L3 Technologies; and Joseph Re, vice president of the Navy League’s National Capital Council, who served as chairman of the commissioning committee.
Also present for the ceremony were Bruckenthal’s widow Pattie Bruckenthal and their daughter Harper, who was born after he died, as well as Maritime Enforcement Specialist Chief Joseph T. Ruggiero, who served with Bruckenthal in the Persian Gulf and was injured during the oil terminal attack. Prior to the ceremony, Ruggiero re-enlisted aboard the new cutter.
“What a great legacy,” Schultz said.