Newport will serve as home port to two new Coast Guard vessels

By NEWPORT DAILY NEWS Published: August 12, 2020

NEWPORT, R.I. (Tribune News Service) — After speaking with Coast Guard Adm. Karl Schultz, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced Wednesday that Rhode Island will serve as the home port for two new 360-foot Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), which will be based out of Naval Station Newport.

Senator Reed, who has advocated Newport be the home of the forthcoming East Coast-based OPCs, said the arrangement is a win-win for the Ocean State and the Coast Guard. It will bring more jobs and Coast Guard personnel to Rhode Island while maximizing efficiencies and taking advantage of recent federal investments and Rhode Island's strategic location.

"The Coast Guard plays an essential role in safeguarding our nation and these cutters are tremendous assets in terms of maritime security and ensuring our economic interests on the high seas," Reed said in a prepared statement. "I'm thrilled to be adding these workhorse vessels to the stable of Coast Guard assets here in Rhode Island. Once they are delivered, they will greatly enhance the Coast Guard's regional capabilities."

The new 360-foot vessels are part of the new Heritage class of vessels that began construction in 2019. The Coast Guard intends to build 25 of these vessels. The first vessel in this class is currently under construction in Florida, and the Coast Guard expects to take delivery in 2022.

"I have long believed that Naval Station Newport offers an ideal location for the Coast Guard to home port these 360-foot vessels and their crews," said Reed, who toured the Coast Guard's facility in Newport last fall. "It offers the benefits and amenities of a secure naval facility and an outstanding quality of life for crew members and their families. And I will continue working with the Coast Guard to make the necessary facility investments needed for these vessels, as well as the capabilities and force structure the Coast Guard needs to effectively perform its vital missions."

The OPCs, which can have a crew size of over 100 service members, conduct missions including law enforcement, living marine resources enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction, search and rescue, and other homeland security and defense operations.

Each OPC will be capable of deploying independently or as part of task groups and serving as a mobile command and control platform for surge operations such as hurricane response, mass migration incidents and other events. The cutters will also support Arctic missions.

The Coast Guard has a considerable presence in Rhode Island, with 300 active-duty personnel, 50 reservists and another 45 civilian employees. The Coast Guard is responsible for patrolling over 384 miles of Ocean State shoreline and has an annual operating budget in the state of about $58 million.

Currently, Newport is home to four Coast Guard Cutters.

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