The 16 Reliance-class cutters are primarily assigned law enforcement and search and rescue missions. They can support one HH-65A helicopter, but no hangar is provided. All ships of the class have undergone or will undergo Midlife Maintenance Availability (MMA) during the next several years. The purpose of MMA is to upgrade machinery and equipment in order that the class may remain mission capable, supportable, and reliable for the second half of its service life. The Storis and Divers class round out the WMEC fleet with one each.
Typical patrols last about 6 or 7 weeks. The cutters spend half of the year away from home on patrol and half of the year inport accomplishing maintenance, crew rest and training.
The 210-foot cutters were added to the Coast Guard as part of an effort to upgrade the aging fleet of World War II-era cutters. The Naval Engineering Division designed these cutters for search and rescue and law enforcement patrols of a “medium endurance”–i.e. they could conduct patrols of up to three weeks without requiring replenishment. The outward appearance of these new cutters reflected the evolving nature of Coast Guard operations during the latter part of the 20th Century. They had sleek lines with the most prominent feature being their flight decks. They were originally fitted with transom exhaust ports that provided more room for a larger flight deck and kept the flight deck clear of exhaust smoke. In practice, however, the exhaust system proved problematic. Their high pilot house gave the bridge crew unrestricted all-around visibility, making ship-handling easier. A number of other concerns figured into the design phase including maximum serviceability, improved habitability, long service life, and safety.
Her superstructure is arranged in three levels forward of midship affording the wheelhouse 360 degrees visibility. Featured also is a flight deck suitable for carrying the Coast Guard’s newest type of rescue helicopter. A streamlined tower type mast with platform, yard and gaff accommodates the navigation and signal lights and antennae. Conspicuously missing is the conventional stack, which is eliminated by the use of an exhaust vent in the stern. She is equipped with facilities for ocean towing of vessels up to ten thousand gross tons. The crew accommodations are so modernistic in design and comforts they can only be compared with those aboard some of the modern merchant ships
Two shafts capped by controllable pitch propellers drove these cutters to a top speed of 18 knots. Those shafts were powered by a number of different power plants. The Coast Guard actually designed two types of propulsion. Cutters 615-619 received a CODAG propulsion plant consisting of two Cooper-Bessemer Corporation FVBM-12 turbocharged diesel engines coupled with two Solar Aircraft Company gas turbines turbines, the first U.S. vessels to receive this unique propulsion system. The other cutters received only the diesels. The propulsion system could be remotely controlled from the pilothouse, either bridge wing, or the engine room control booth.
|Builder||WMEC 615-617, Todd Shipyards
618, Christy Corp.
620-624, 626-627, American Shipbuilding
619, 625, 628-629, Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Md.
200 feet at Waterline
|Displacement||947 -1,000 tons|
|Power plant||Two ALCO Diesel Engines
2500 Horsepower each
|Maximum Speed||18 knots|
|Maximum Range||6,100 miles|
|Capacity||47,600-51,000 Gallons Diesel Fuel Capacity
2,750- 5,000 Gallons JP-5 (aviation fuel) Helicopter Fuel Capacity
8,300-10,750 Gallons Water Capacity
|Armament||1 – 25 mm machine gun
2 – 50-caliber machine guns
|Aircraft||One HH-65A helicopter|
|Typical Crew||75 Personnel (12 Officers, 63 Enlisted)|
Cutter History File. USCG Historian’s Office, USCG HQ, Washington, D.C.
Robert Scheina. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990.