U.S. Coast Guard
The U.S. Coast Guard has selected Astoria as the new home for two fast response cutters by 2021, a decision that will expand the agency’s footprint in the Columbia-Pacific region and provide a significant financial boost to the Lower Columbia River area.
The 154-foot Sentinel-class cutters — each costing $73 million — replace the 1980s-era 110-foot Island-class patrol boats, which are nearing the end of service life.
Each of the new cutters will require two officers and 20 crew.
Upon stationing a new Sentinel-class cutter in Ketchikan, Alaska, earlier this month, Coast Guard Adm. Charles D. Michel said, “At 154 feet, the Fast Response Cutter has incredible improvements over its predecessor. The longer length makes for a more stable platform to conduct operations — from launching small boats in heavy seas to remaining at sea for longer periods of time.
“This new cutter is also capable of going farther — increasing operational range from 1,853 nautical miles to 2,500 nautical miles. As a result, Alaska will see a 19 percent increase in patrol boat operations. The Fast Response Cutter also achieves speeds of nearly 30 knots for longer periods of time, besting the cutter it is replacing.
“Paraphrasing the ship’s commanding officer, the ship can go farther than before and get there faster than before.”
Astoria had been competing with Newport for the two new cutters.
The Coast Guard has been looking at the 17th Street Dock or Tongue Point for the new cutters, but an official said a decision has not been made on where in the city the cutters will homeport.
The new cutters have not been named, according to the Coast Guard, but others in the class have been named for enlisted personnel who distinguished themselves.
The Coast Guard said a 110-foot Island-class patrol boat, the Orcas, will continue to operate in Coos Bay until the new cutters arrive in Astoria in 2021.
The Coast Guard’s Sector Columbia River headquarters and Air Station Astoria are based at the Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton. Astoria is also home to the Coast Guard’s 210-foot medium endurance cutters Steadfast and Alert, and the 180-foot buoy tender Fir, but does not have one of the Island-class patrol boats.