Coast Guard to commission sixth National Security Cutter in Seattle to honor local World War II hero

SEATTLE — The Coast Guard will hold a commissioning ceremony for the Coast Guard Cutter Munro, the military service’s newest National Security Cutter (NSC), Saturday.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft will preside over the ceremony, accepting the sixth NSC into the military service’s fleet.

The commissioning of a cutter is a time-honored naval tradition where a vessel is placed into active service. During this event, the cutter is “brought to life” and the crew ceremoniously reports aboard to accept their positions.

The Coast Guard Cutter Munro, the fourth NSC to be homeported on the West Coast in Alameda, California, is being commissioned in Seattle to honor the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient, Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro (1919– 1942), who is buried in the veterans’ section of Laurel Hill Memorial Park in Cle Elum. Naming of the sixth NSC in honor of the former South Cle Elem resident pays tribute to Munro’s heroism and legacy. Munro was mortally wounded in action in the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II while providing covering fire during the evacuation of a detachment of 500 U.S. Marines who were under attack.

Munro’s great niece, Julie Sheehan, the ship’s sponsor, will order the ship to “come to life” alongside the cutter’s commanding officer, Capt. Thomas H. King. Sheehan and many of Munro’s family members reside in the Pacific Northwest and will be in attendance.

“National Security Cutters are state of the art platforms that can operate seamlessly within the Navy’s fleet and leverage our unique authorities to push our maritime borders thousands of miles beyond the homeland in order to ensure our national security and prosperity,” said Adm. Zukunft. “Our nation faces significant threats posed by violent transnational organized crime networks and the men and women of the Coast Guard are on the front lines of this fight. With ‘Gallantry in Action’ as the cutter’s motto, I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to Douglas Munro’s legacy than to name our armed service’s newest asset after our only Medal of Honor recipient.”

Known as the Legend class, NSCs are designed to be the flagships of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging national security missions, including support to U.S. combatant commanders. NSCs are 418 feet in length, 54 feet in beam and 4,600 long tons in displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can hold a crew of up to 150. These new cutters are replacing the aging High Endurance Hamilton class cutters (378-feet) that have been in service since the 1960s.

Cutters like Munro routinely conduct operations from South America to the Bering Sea where their unmatched combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, counter-narcotics and homeland security operations at great distances from shore, keeping threats far from the U.S. mainland.

Since the first operational deployment of a National Security Cutter in Fiscal Year 2009, three NSCs (Waesche, Bertholf and Stratton) removed more than 98 metric tons of cocaine worth an estimated $2.9 billion wholesale combined.

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