NEWPORT — Two 270-foot Coast Guard vessels involved in search and rescue operations, military exercises and maritime law enforcement are now based in Rhode Island, authorities said Friday.
The Tahoma and Campbell cutters, each with a crew of about 100, were welcomed to Naval Station Newport in a ceremony attended by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, the Commandant of Coast Guard Adm. Linda Fagan and other dignitaries.
“Saving lives, arresting drug traffickers, supporting national security missions overseas, and keeping commerce through the waves are part of the Coast Guard’s day-to-day work, and we are grateful for the unwavering dedication and professionalism of our Coast Guard members,” Reed said in a statement. “The Coast Guard has an active presence here in Rhode Island, and we’re excited to see it grow even stronger.”
Both cutters were previously based at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire.
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Medium Endurance Cutters are part of the Famous class of vessels which began service in the late 1980s. Both are fitted with sophisticated communications and navigational equipment and armed with a 76mm deck gun and carry an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.
It was a homecoming of sorts for both ships, whose keels were laid at the now defunct Derecktor Shipyard in Middletown, Rhode Island in 1983 (Tahoma) and 1984 (Campbell).
The Coast Guard has a sizable presence in Rhode Island, with approximately 300 active duty personnel, 50 reservists, and 45 other civilian employees. The Coast Guard is responsible for patrolling more than 384 miles of the state’s ocean coastline and has an annual in-state operating budget of approximately $58 million.
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Currently, Newport is home to Coast Guard Cutters: CGC Oak, CGC Sycamore, and CGC Ida Lewis. In a few years, these vessels will be joined by two all-new, state-of-the-art 360-foot Heritage-class vessels that are currently under construction in Florida.
These multi-mission assets serve aids to navigation, perform search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, port and waterway security, living marine resources, and defense and security interior.
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“We have invested significant federal assets in modernizing the Naval Base Newport waterfront and I am on a mission to help Rhode Island gain more ships and personnel,” Reed said.
Information from US Senator Jack Reed’s office was used in this report.