Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Saturday, May 10, 2014
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Newest Coast Guard cutter joins fleet today

The third of six sleek new Fast Response Cutters to be homeported at Coast Guard Sector Key West will officially enter service today.

The commissioning of the Kathleen Moore marks the halfway point in Sector Key West's procurement of the new 154-foot Sentinel class ships set to replace the older 110-foot cutters that are being phased out of service.

Her crew off 22 has been in Key West since October, preparing the Kathleen Moore for service, which will include search and rescue, marine law enforcement and antismuggling interdiction primarily in the Florida Straits and Florida Keys.

The Kathleen Moore's first cruise is tentatively scheduled for the end of June or early July, said her executive officer, Lt. j.g. Curtis Gookin. Her commanding officer is Lt. Gregory Higgins.

Though all the FRCs are essentially the same, the Kathleen Moore's test trials resulted in a point of pride for her crew -- she clocked the fastest speeds of the FRCs tested thus far, Gookin said.

"There's really no good explanation, other than her engines just lined up very well," Gookin said.

The Kathleen Moore was clocked at 30-plus knots, a bit faster than the 28 knots generally expected of the new cutters.

Exact specifications for some of the ship's capabilities are being kept under wraps by the Coast Guard.

The new cutters carry a remotely operated 25mm chain gun and four .50-caliber machine guns. The cutters' go-fast boats can be deployed via their sterns as opposed to the cranes used now, a big improvement in terms of time savings at sea.

The 270-foot Thetis and the Mohawk will remain based in Key West, as will the 87-foot Sawfish, but the 110-footers will either be decommissioned or sent to another port.

In Key West, that includes the Pea Island, Kodiak Island, Knight Island and Key Biscayne. It was decided to replace them after a failed retrofit in 2004 that was plagued with structural problems.

All the new FRCs are named after noted Coast Guard crew members who served heroically. Key West is already home to the Charles David and the Charles Sexton, both of which also arrived this year.

Kathleen Moore was a lighthouse keeper in Long Island Sound for more than 50 years. She began working at 12 years old with her father before retiring in 1878. She is credited with saving 21 lives and saving numerous vessels. Part of her job included nursing injured shipwreck victims back to health.

History will remain a part of the Kathleen Moore by way of her first commanding officer. Higgins is related to Andrew Higgins, the man who engineered the Higgin's Boat, or the Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP) boat that delivered troops from ship to beach during World War II.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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