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Sea turtle saviors: New Coast Guard cutter is keeping busy on its way to Guam

Crew members of the Coast Guard cutter Frederick Hatch rescue a sea turtle entangled in trash following a port call earlier this month on Huatulco, Mexico.

U.S. COAST GUARD

By DANIEL BETANCOURT | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 13, 2021

The Coast Guard cutter Frederick Hatch is mixing business with fun in the sun as it makes its way to its new homeport on Guam, according to posts on the ship’s official Facebook page.

The newly commissioned Sentinel-class fast response cutter left Key West, Fla., in late April on an approximately 70-day voyage to the U.S. island territory. There it will join two other fast response cutters, Myrtle Hazard and Oliver Henry.

After transiting the Panama Canal, the Frederick Hatch took part in unspecified law enforcement activity and watched passing dolphins, according to a May 3 post.

After a port call at Huatulco, Mexico, a former fishing village turned tourist destination, it continued to Puerto Vallarta. Along the way, the crew stopped to rescue a sea turtle entangled in trash, held man-overboard and small-boat drills and found time for some fishing, according to a post on May 7.

On Sunday, the cutter’s last night in Mexico, the Puerto Vallarta Navy League hosted a reception for the crew filled with plenty of food and a beautiful view.

The Frederick Hatch made these port calls in Mexico to refuel, resupply and to let crew members stretch their legs after a difficult Panama Canal transit, Coast Guard PAO Lt. Cmdr. Karin Evelyn from 14th Coast Guard District in Hawaii said by email Thursday to Stars and Stripes.

Evelyn could not provide details on Thursday about the law enforcement activity referenced in the cutter’s May 3 Facebook post.

At Los Angeles, the Frederick Hatch crew was welcomed by a pod of grey whales and a seal resting at their anchored ship, according to a Thursday post.

The Los Angeles stop is for resupply and maintenance before the cutter heads across the Pacific, Evelyn mentioned in the email.

Positioning the trio of cutters at Santa Rita, Guam, a U.S. island territory, is meant as a response to “coercive and antagonistic behavior from China,” Coast Guard commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said in October 2019.

The Myrtle and Oliver have already saved mariners in distress, intercepted narcotics and boarded several vessels to deter unregulated fishing in Oceania. The fast-response cutters are conducting longer missions over greater distances than the older patrol boats they are replacing.

Each fast response cutter costs about $65 million, according to a March report by the Congressional Research Service. Forty of 64 cutters the Coast Guard has funded are in service, according to the report.

The Frederick Hatch, built in Louisiana by Bollinger Shipyards, carries a crew of 24. Their families will join them in Guam, according to the Coast Guard.

betancourt.daniel@stripes.com
Twitter: @Beta_Stripes

Crew members of the Coast Guard cutter Frederick Hatch pose with their catch during a fish call earlier this month near Mexico.
U.S. COAST GUARD