LOCKPORT, La. — Bollinger Shipyards has delivered the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Henry in Key West, Florida, the company said in a July 30 release.
This is the 163rd vessel Bollinger has delivered to the Coast Guard over a 35-year period and the 40th fast-response cutter (FRC) under the current program.
The Oliver Henry is the second of three FRCs to be homeported in Apra Harbor, Guam, increasing the presence for the Coast Guard in the Indo-Pacific theater. Additionally, later in 2020, Bollinger deliver the first of six FRCs that will be based in Manama, Bahrain, which will replace the Island-class patrol boats supporting the Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the U.S.
“Bollinger is proud to continue enhancing and supporting the Coast Guard’s operational presence and mission in the Indo-Pacific region with the delivery of the USCGC Oliver Henry,” said Ben Bordelon, Bollinger’s president and CEO.
Each FRC is named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished himself or herself in the line of duty. Oliver Henry was the first minority service member to move from the wardroom to the engine room and rose rapidly through the ranks of enlisted mechanics.
He was one of the Coast Guard’s first minority warrant officers and served over 15 years of his 26-year career as a warrant. As a leader and role model, he mentored many of the next generation of service leaders, including officers and enlisted men.
The homeporting of three FRCs in Guam is part of the Coast Guard’s “doubling down on Oceania,” allowing more frequent and longer patrols in an area where the Coast Guard has increased its presence over the past 18 months and is aligned with the U.S. position on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific.
In a speech last year, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz stressed the strategic importance of the service’s presence in the region saying, “We’re on a trajectory where the geostrategic importance of the Oceania region has not been higher here in decades, and it’s a place that the Coast Guard’s looking to be part of the whole-of-government solution set.”
While the last 20 weeks of the Oliver Henry’s build occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bollinger took precautions to ensure the health and safety of employees and keep its delivery schedule. In addition to enhanced sanitization practices across the shipyard, Bollinger enacted more liberal leave and remote work policies as well as altered shift schedules to promote social distancing.
Bordelon continued, “Delivering vessels on schedule and on budget to the Coast Guard in these unprecedented times given the COVID-19 challenges that we are all facing shows the resiliency and dedication of our incredibly capable workforce.”
FRCs are consistently being deployed in support of the full range of missions within the Coast Guard and other branches of the U.S. armed services. FRCs have conducted operations as far as the Marshall Islands — a 4,400 nautical mile trip from their homeport. Measuring in at 154-feet, FRCs have a flank speed of 28 knots, ultramodern command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and stern launch and recovery ramp for a 26-foot, over-the-horizon interceptor cutter boat.