Fairbanks Morse is pleased to take this opportunity to recognize the lengthy and commendable service of the USCG 378’ High Endurance Cutters (WHEC) as the last of this successful class of cutters is decommissioned this month. We are honored to have powered this cutter class for more than 56 years of exceptional performance.
On April 24, 2021, the Coast Guard will decommission the USCGC Munro (WHEC-724), the last of its high-endurance cutters. This event will mark the end of the 378-foot Hamilton-class high- endurance cutters, which were first commissioned in the mid-1960s and were a foundational pillar of the Coast Guard’s maritime security role.
The USCGC Munro was commissioned on September 27, 1971, at Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans, Louisiana. Fairbanks Morse (FM) provided the new ship’s two opposed-piston (OP) engines, which were essential to executing the cutter’s long-range, high-endurance missions of search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, and homeland defense. The tenth of twelve 378-foot cutters, the ship was named after the only Coast Guard Medal of Honor recipient, Signalman First Class Douglas Munro, who died at Guadalcanal in World War II.
Fairbanks Morse contributed again to the cutter’s long life and high performance in 1986 when she underwent a two-year Fleet Renovation and Modernization (FRAM) program. During the FRAM, Fairbanks Morse removed the OP engines and sent them to the Beloit factory, where the team overhauled the engines so thoroughly they were effectively new, giving the USCGC Munro and her crew another 35 years of lifesaving service.
Over the course of her 49 years, Munro always lived up to her motto of “Honoring the Past by Serving the Present.” In March 2008, off her final homeport of Kodiak, Alaska, the USCGC Munro entered maritime history when she led the search and rescue efforts for the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger, whose crew members were forced to abandon ship in the frigid and stormy Bering Sea. Through brutal conditions, the USCGC Munro coordinated in-flight refueling, survivor transfers, sorties, and flyovers, ultimately rescuing 42 crew members.
That fateful night is just one of the cutter’s hundreds of critical missions powered by Fairbanks Morse engines. For her years of service and superior performance, cutter Munro has received numerous awards, including the Coast Guard Unit Meritorious Commendation, the Coast Guard’s Unit Commendation and Citations, the 2012 PACAREA major caliber gunnery award, and the Coast Guard’s Special Operations Service Ribbon.
The Coast Guard Cutter Munro returned home to Kodiak, Alaska, from its final patrol on March 17, 2021 and is expected to be transferred to the Vietnam Coast Guard later this year.
Like the USCGC Munro motto, Fairbanks Morse honors the past and will proudly deliver another half-century (or longer) of world-class service to the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy.