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Fast Response Cutters prove to be a ‘game-changer' in Alaska for USCG

US Coast Guard officials says Fast Response Cutters are augmenting operations in Alaskan waters. (US Coast Guard)

The relatively new Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) are starting to change the way the US Coast Guard (USCG) serves Alaskan waters, according to service officials.

Introduced to the region about four years ago, the FRCs are broadening the scope of USCG operations in the region, service officials told Janes.

“These Fast Response Cutters are a game-changer,” Lieutenant Bridget Hendrix, a USCG enforcement division officer, told Janes. “They can go 2,500 m [4,023 km], and that's way more [than] the 110s [Island-class patrol boats],” she said. “And they can go 28-plus knots. We can get to things a lot quicker than we used to.”

Captain Darwin Jensen, commander of Coast Guard Sector Juneau, told Janes, “The Fast Response Cutters are able to stretch our boundaries.”

Such attributes are beginning to make a difference, especially in law enforcement missions, he said. “It's putting presence on the outside edge.”

The USCG commissioned its first 154-ft (46.9 m) Sentinel-class John McCormick (WPC-1121) on 14 April 2017 in Ketchikan, Alaska. It is the first Pacific Ocean homeported FRC scheduled to replace the 1980s-era 110-ft (33.5 m) Island-class patrol boats.

The USCG commissioned the next regional FRC Bailey Barco (WPC-1122) on 14 June 2017 in Juneau, Alaska, scheduled to also be based in Ketchikan, under the command of the USCG's 17th District, which includes coastal and inland waters surrounding Alaska.

FRCs, USCG officials note, feature advanced command, control, communication, 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.

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