SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard commissioned the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez during a ceremony at U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan Friday morning.
The Heriberto Hernández is the fourteenth Fast Response Cutter FRC to be commissioned in the Coast Guard and the second to be homeported in Puerto Rico.
“This is at truly special occasion,” said Capt. Robert Warren, Sector San Juan commander. “The Heriberto Hernandez and the remaining incoming FRC’s will significantly enhance our ability to counter the evolving safety, security and law enforcement threats that face our region. The move also highlights the Coast Guard’s unwavering commitment to the citizens of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and its continued investment and contribution to the safety and security of the Eastern Caribbean.”
“I am very thankful to the Coast Guard for remembering my son and what he did when he served,” said Ms. Juanita Segovia, mother of Heriberto Hernandez and sponsor of the cutter. “However, I miss him dearly and know that nothing on this earth can bring him back to me. I am glad his memory is still alive after all these years.”
The Sentinel Class FRCs are designed to conduct maritime drug interdiction, alien migrant interdiction, search and rescue, national defense, homeland security, living marine resource protection and other Coast Guard missions. This class of patrol boat is capable of deploying independently to execute Coast Guard missions and prevent potential threats from approaching our shores. It offers vastly improved capabilities over the aging 110-foot Island class patrol boats it replaces. The FRC is part of the Coast Guard’s layered approach to maritime security that includes the National Security Cutter and the future Offshore Patrol Cutter.
Each FRC is named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished him or herself in the line of duty. This vessel is named after the Coast Guard hero Heriberto “Eddie” Hernandez. Hernandez was a fireman aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Point Cypress during the Vietnam War. On Dec. 5, 1968, Hernandez joined the Point Cypress executive officer and a visiting Coast Guard officer in a boat patrol on a 13-foot Boston Whaler up the Rach Nang River in search for Viet Cong presence along the waterway. Along the shore, they found an armed Viet Cong guerrilla entering a shore-side bunker. The boat crew and guerilla exchanged fire, severely wounding the three crewmembers as they maneuvered away. The boat returned the Point Cypress, but Hernandez wounds proved fatal. He died later that day. Hernandez gave his life for his country and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star Medal with the combat “V” device for his professional skill, courage under enemy fire and his devotion to duty.
“Over the last four months my shipmates and I have endeavored to complete important milestones in the life of the Coast Guard’s newest cutter,” said Lt. Charles Bare, FRC Heriberto Hernandez commanding officer. “We are proud to honor Coast Guard hero Fireman Heriberto Herandez and are excited to bring this new FRC bearing his name to serve and protect the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Upon commissioning we will be prepared to execute the most challenging maritime security, law enforcement, and national defense missions in the Eastern Caribbean.”
The 154-foot long Heriberto Hernandez has a beam of 25 feet and a maximum sustained speed of more than 28 knots. It is armed with a stabilized 25mm machine-gun mount and four crew-served .50-caliber machine guns and is equipped with a highly capable small boat and advanced communications suite.