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Storied Coast Guard ship retires after 50 years of service

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard ceremonial honor guard stand in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Sherman prior to the cutter's decommissioning ceremony in Honolulu on Thursday, March 29, 2018.

MATTHEW S. MASASCHI/U.S. COAST GUARD

By WILLIAM COLE | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser (Tribune News Service) | Published: April 1, 2018

The 50-year-old cutter Sherman, the Coast Guard’s last active warship to have sunk an enemy vessel in combat, was decommissioned in Honolulu on Thursday.

The 378-foot cutter was in service during the Vietnam War in November 1970 when it intercepted and assisted other U.S. ships in sinking a North Vietnamese supply trawler that was hailed to stop but resisted, according to the Coast Guard.

Some 37 years later, in 2007, a boarding team from the Sherman found 17 metric tons of cocaine worth $600 million on a Panamanian-flagged freighter, the Coast Guard said.

The Sherman returned to Honolulu in March 2017 after making another big drug haul, seizing more than 13,730 pounds of cocaine worth over $205.9 million off Central and South America.

The retirement is the end of the line of aged “high-endurance cutters” in Honolulu that included the Morgenthau, the Jarvis and the Rush, officials said.

“The Sherman has served above and beyond the cutter’s intended capabilities across her (lengthy) service to our country,” said Coast Guard Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, who leads the Pacific region, in a news release.

Commissioned in 1968, the ship is going to Sri Lanka through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, the Coast Guard said.

The Morgenthau, commissioned in 1969, was turned over to Vietnam upon its decommissioning. The Sherman was sent to Honolulu in 2015 to replace the retired cutter Rush. Both the Rush and the Jarvis were transferred to Bangladesh.

The Coast Guard, in the meantime, is recapitalizing its ship assets in Hawaii.

The first of three new 154-foot, $65 million “fast response cutters” arrived in Honolulu in September. The Oliver Berry was followed by the Joseph Gerczak in February. The William Hart will be the third, the Coast Guard said.

The ships “will be able to reach far beyond the Hawaiian Islands to help with search and rescue efforts and law enforcement fisheries efforts,” according to the service.

Two new 418-foot “national security cutters” also are expected to be stationed in Honolulu. The big $695 million cutters are the new centerpiece of the Coast Guard fleet, “capable of executing the most challenging operations, including supporting maritime homeland security and defense mission,” the service said.

The first of those ships for Honolulu, the Kimball, is expected to arrive in December.

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