Coast Guard Gets New Ship Assigned to Hawaii

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Crew members from the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle wave and take pictures as the Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane passes by in the Mona Pass.
Crew members from the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle wave and take pictures as the Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane passes by in the Mona Pass on June 23, 2007. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

This week, U.S. Coast Guard's CGC Harriet Lane and its crew arrived in its new home port of Honolulu.

The cutter sailed more than 8,000 nautical miles over 36 days from Portsmouth, Va., to join the Coast Guard's District 14, which is headquartered on Oahu and is the service's largest area of operations.

"Re-homeporting U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane is indicative of the Coast Guard's commitment to the Indo-Pacific -- the most dynamic region in the world," said deputy commander of U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson in a media release. "Harriet Lane will work by, with and through allies and partners within the Indo-Pacific region to promote capacity building and model good maritime governance."

The Coast Guard has been steadily boosting its footprint in the Pacific. In 2021, the service added an unprecedented three fast-response cutters to its sector on Guam, and in February, Rear Adm. Michael Ryan, the Coast Guard deputy commandant for operations and policy, told military news outlet Defense One that the service intends to triple its deployments in the Pacific in coming years.

In March, the Coast Guard announced that the Harriet Lane would be coming to Hawaii. The ship was commissioned in 1984 and recently spent more than 15 months in a Service Life Extension Program in Baltimore to prepare for its new mission as an "Indo-Pacific Support Cutter." The 270-foot vessel brings with it a crew of about 100 new Coast Guardsmen and puts the number of cutters assigned to District 14 up to 11.

Several of the Coast Guard's cutters already assigned to District 14 are set to go through maintenance periods.

"The crew and I look forward to building partnerships in Oceania to enhance our capabilities, strengthen maritime governance and security while promoting individual sovereignty, " said Cmdr. Nicole Tesoniero, commanding officer of the cutter. "We plan to build upon many decades of enduring support, operating in concert with the needs of our partners."

Many Pacific island nations lack a navy or coast guard of their own. The U.S. Coast Guard regularly receives requests for assistance in search and rescue operations as well as tracking suspicious vessels. U.S. officials have cited concerns about overfishing, particularly by China's large state-­subsidized fleet, as among the reasons for boosting the Coast Guard's footprint in the region.

The vessel already has a long history at sea.

In 1994, it was the command ship for Operation Able Manner forces, a mission to rescue thousands of Haitian and Cuban refugees who became trapped at sea while they joined a wave to cross the Windward Passage and Florida Straits toward shores in the United States. The crew was credited with saving over 2, 400 people during the operation.

The Harriet Lane was also involved in the search and recovery of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 in 1996 and the response to the disastrous Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

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