A cruise on the USCGC Bernard C. Webber
In town on a rainy day during a tour up from its homeport of Miami, the Coast Guard's first Fast Repose Cutter, the USCGC Bernard C. Webber, took reporters on a short cruise down the Potomac on May 14.
The Webber is meant to be the first of 58 FRCs rolling out as part of an ongoing Coast Guard recapitalization effort. The new class's construction has not been without glitches, including $6.9 million worth of structural rework for the initial run after the Coast Guard decided to reinforce some structural elements in the design.
During the cruise. Rear Adm. Bruce Baffer, director of Coast Guard acquisition, said the rework wasn't too big a deal. "It's a one percent change order on the first in class ship. That's well within the change order budget," he said.
Homeland Security auditors have criticized the service for starting FRC construction when the design was only 71 percent complete. Baffer reiterated the Coast Guard position that the design was 80 percent complete, and emphasized that FRCs are based on the pre-existing design of the Netherlands-based Damen Group's Damen Stan 4708 patrol vessel.
"This is a state of the market ship, based on parent craft," Baffer said. "We were comfortable starting a little bit sooner than the OIG would have," he added.
During the approximately 90 minute cruise down the Potomac, the Webber crew launched its 7.9 meter cutter boat from the stern ramp, with FierceHomelandSecurity sitting in the boat's last row. The coxswain at one point put the boat in the FRC's wake and proceeded to do fast 360 degree turns. Yes, it was totally awesome. Click through the slides for additional photos and information about the Fast Response Cutter.