Hero Class 378
Thirty-six 378 foot cutters were planned; however, only 12 were constructed due to the wind down of the ocean station program. Ships of 378 footclass were the largest U.S. warships built with gas turbine propulsion prior to the Navy’s Spruance class destroyers.
The class has welded steel hulls and aluminium superstructures. Living spaces are air-conditioned, and the cutters were constructed with laboratories for weather and oceanographic research. Although the units were built at the same yard, there was significant variation among them. For example, 716 -723 have synchoizing clutcheswhereas the remaining have sychro self shifting clutches.
All units were modernized from late 1986 through 1990. They received new armament and a telescoping hangar, satelite communications and Mark 92 gunfire control system.
Length 378′ (oa)
Draft 20′ (max)
2 Fairbanks Morse diesels / 2 Pratt Whitney turbines 7000/36000 HP
Max sustained speed 29 knots 2400 miles
Cruising 19 knots 9600 milers
Ecconomic 11 knots 14000 miles
All 12 378 Hero class cutters were built by Avondale Shipyards Inc. New Orleans, LA
CGC HAMILTON WHEC 715
Keel laid January 1965, Launched 18 December 65
Commissioned 20 February 1967
Fourteen months after launch, Hamilton was commissioned in 1967 and home-ported at Boston, from which it patrolled Atlantic Ocean Stations Bravo, Charlie and Delta. In November 1969 Hamilton joined Coast Guard Squadron Three, fifth deployment, with sister cutters Dallas (WHEC 716), Mellon (WHEC 717), Chase (WHEC 718) and the older Ponchartrain, (WHEC 70). Squadron Three’s duties included participation in the Navy’s Market Time operation, consisting of coastal surveillance and naval gunfire support (NGFS) missions. In this role Hamilton interdicted weapons smuggling and fired more than 4,600 rounds of gunfire in support of troops ashore. Hamilton’s crew also participated in medical civilian assistance programs (MEDCAPs) providing temporary medical dispensaries, civic action and charitable projects to civilians ashore.
After ten months in the Vietnam theatre, Hamilton returned to Boston and resumed ocean station patrols in the Atlantic and Caribbean, participating in oceanographic, law enforcement and search and rescue (SAR) operations. After closure of the ocean stations in 1975, Hamilton participated in Operation Buccaneer, a surveillance and interdiction effort to intercept marijuana and contraband shipments in the Windward Channel. These operations lasted until 1984.
In October 1985 Hamilton began FRAM reconstruction at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Me., which continued to the end of 1988. In 1991 Hamilton left its Boston homeport for a new homeport in San Pedro, California.
Operations Able Manner & Able Vigil:
In 1993 and 1994 Hamilton participated in Operations Able Manner and Able Vigil. During Operation Able Manner (15 January 1993 to 26 November 1994), Hamilton was the on-scene commander for seventeen cutters, nine aircraft, and five U.S. Navy vessels operating off the Haitian coast, intercepting 25,177 individual migrants fleeing Haiti, as many as 3,247 in a single day. The operation took over 6,000 cutter days and 14,000 flight hours. The second mission, Operation Able Vigil (19 August to 23 September 1994) involved twenty-nine cutters, including Hamilton, six aircraft, and nine U.S. Navy ships operating in the Straits of Florida, and intercepted 30,224 Cuban migrants, as many as 3,253 in one day. Hamilton received the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation for rescuing 135 Haitians from the sea after their sailboat capsized and sank.
In 1996, Hamilton once again transited the Panama Canal and served as the command and control platform for Operation Frontier Shield, a multi-agency effort to curtail the influx of narcotics into the United States via the Panama Canal and the Caribbean. Hamilton intercepted 14 drug-laden vessels carrying more than 115 tons of contraband worth 200 million dollars. In 1999, Hamilton seized over 2,700 kilograms of cocaine bound for the U.S. in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The same year Hamilton was transferred to San Diego.
Between these interdiction operations, Hamilton’s usual patrols and missions included search and rescue (SAR); patrolling the Bering Sea off the Alaska coast at the Maritime Boundary Line (MBL), which separates the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of Russia and the United States; and supporting Homeland Security operations.
In March 2007 Hamilton assisted the Sherman in the largest recorded maritime drug seizure to date. The two vessels intercepted the Panamanian-flagged fishing vessel Gatun in international waters and recovered 20 metric tons of cocaine with an estimated street value of $600 million dollars.
In his announcement of her decommissioning in 2011, after 44 years of service, Commandant Admiral Robert Papp concluded with this summary:
“DURING HER LAST YEAR OF SERVICE, CGC HAMILTON CRUISED ALL AHEAD
FULL, SAILING FOR 205 DAYS IN 2010, COVERING OVER 50,000 NAUTICAL
MILES, IN SUPPORT OF HAITIAN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF, EASTPAC COUNTER-DRUG OPERATIONS, AND WINTER PATROL IN THE BERING SEA. I KNOW THAT IT WAS HER HARD WORKING CREW THAT MADE THESE EXTRAORDINARY ACCOMPLISHMENTS POSSIBLE – THIS IS AN ACHIEVEMENT THAT TRULY HONORS OUR PROFESSION
CGC DALLAS WHEC 716
Keel laid 7 February 1966, Launched 1 October 1966,
Commissioned 26 October 1967
WHEC-716 was the sixth cutter named Dallas and the second of twelve 378-foot Hamilton-class cutters constructed for the Coast Guard. Dallas was stationed at Governor’s Island, New York, from 1967 until September 1996, when the cutter transferred its homeport to Charleston, South Carolina.
During the Vietnam War, Dallas served in seven combat patrols. The cutter’s primary mission was to cut-off coastal supply routes from North Vietnam to enemy forces in South Vietnam. Dallas compiled an impressive list of accomplishments in Vietnam. During 161 naval gunfire support missions, 7,665 rounds of ammunition were fired accounting for numerous enemy casualties, 58 destroyed sampans and 29 destroyed or damaged supply routes, base camps and rest areas. One of the cutter’s notable actions took place in April of 1970, when Dallas supported a South Vietnamese Army sweep. Dallas was called in to provide close gunfire support after 300 South Vietnamese troops were pinned down and nearly overrun by enemy forces. The cutter fired nearly every projectile in the ammunition locker, breaking the back of the enemy attack. During the action, friendly casualties were brought on board for medical treatment and the evacuation helicopter serviced by the cutter’s aircrew. Dallas’s crew also provided substantial support for the local civilians by rendering medical aid to over 1,500 South Vietnamese citizens; building a dispensary, a playground and school benches for 300 children; and painting a school building. Dallas’s participation in the Vietnam War earned the cutter the Navy’s Meritorious Unit Commendation.
Search and Rescue
In late-September 1968, during Dallas’s first full year of operation, the cutter became involved in its first major SAR case. The cutter came upon the Dutch tanker Johannes Franz drifting helplessly with her engine room flooding in heavy seas 250 miles northeast of Bermuda. Dallas remained on scene providing pumps and other material to keep the disabled ship afloat. After drifting for three days, two commercial tugs arrived to tow the stricken ship to Bermuda for repairs. In 1973, Dallas served as On-Scene Commander in the search for survivors of the cargo ship Norse Variant, which broke apart 250 miles off the New Jersey coast. Only one survivor was saved. In 1978, Dallas participated in the search for the fishing vessel Capt. Cosmo out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. During the search, Dallas encountered seas as high as the cutter’s bridge wings, whose decks sit nearly 40 above the waterline. During that search effort, Dallas encountered the passenger liner Queen Elizabeth II, whose bridge windows were nearly breeched by a rogue wave that came over the bow. Capt Cosmo was never found and all hands were lost. In early 1993, Dallas assisted the Haitian ferry Neptune when she capsized with over 800 people on board and medevaced a critically ill man from the Ukrainian cruise ship Karelya using the Coast Guard’s first ship-deployed HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. In addition, Dallas conducted numerous search and rescue cases as part of the cutter’s migrant interdiction operations described below.
In June 1979, Dallas investigated the suspicious fishing vessel Foxy Lady. The Dallas boarding party discovered 15 tons of marijuana and took the drug runner to San Juan, Puerto Rico. In June 1982, Dallas seized Yvette carrying 5.5 tons of marijuana and, in October 1982, Dallas seized Libra carrying 3.5 tons of marijuana. Dallas received the Coast Guard Unit Commendation Medal for the cutter’s fall 1983 Caribbean patrol during which Dallas made seven drug seizures, arrested 51 persons and confiscated 50 tons of marijuana. Dallas’s seizures included Saint Nicholas on October 25 and, in November, Dallas seized Wammer Jammer, Narwal, Miss Debbie, Nistanova, W and V and El Vira III. In June 1985, Dallas seized drug smuggling vessels M/V Stecarika and the sailboat Esperance. In February 1985, Dallas seized Star Trek carrying 15 tons of marijuana. In 1993, Dallas seized the M/V Gladiator and arrested her six-man crew for smuggling over 5,500 pounds of cocaine. On August 11, 1996, Dallas intercepted and seized the Columbian registered M/V Colopan, carrying 3,850 pounds of marijuana and ten days later Dallas seized the Haitian M/V Express carrying 348 kilograms of cocaine. After the turn of the century, Dallas continued to lead counter-drug operations. In October 17, 2006, Dallas intercepted four bales of cocaine weighing 380 pounds from a foiled airdrop to a smuggling boat. In 2010, Dallas conducted high-value drug interdictions, including seizure of smuggling boats and a self-propelled semi-submersible. The 2010 patrol yielded 5.5 metric tons of cocaine. During Dallas’s final Caribbean patrol in 2012, the cutter seized 5,000 pounds of smuggled cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana. The high-endurance cutter even achieved a top speed of 32 knots chasing a “go-fast” smuggling boat. In addition, Dallas conducted numerous drug interdiction cases as part of its migrant interdiction operations described below.
Mariel Boatlift, April to October 1980
On April 15, 1980, a mass emigration of Cubans began from Mariel, Cuba. Over the next seven months, 125,000 Cuban migrants crossed the Florida Strait heading for Florida in dangerously unseaworthy watercraft. What became known as the Mariel Boatlift was the largest humanitarian response effort in Coast Guard history up to that time. The Dallas served as On-Scene Commander, overseeing this historic response effort. At times, Dallas had as many as 500 refugees on board and aided over 300 boats. During the six-week response effort, Dallas supervised a dozen larger cutters and numerous smaller cutters and patrol boats as well as units of the Navy and Marine Corps.
Alien Migration Interdiction Operations
In 1983, Dallas interdicted 90 Haitian migrants during a Caribbean patrol. During the return trip from the cutter’s 1993 deployment to Operation Able Manner, Dallas intercepted the 144-foot M/V Mermaid No. 1, which carried 237 Chinese migrants. In September 2006, Dallas intercepted the Desperado, a 60-foot sport fishing vessel carrying 78 Cuban migrants, including 12 children. A law enforcement team from Dallas arrested the crew of four smugglers and brought them aboard the cutter to provide them with food, water and medical treatment. Dallas then received eight more Cuban migrants rescued earlier in the day by USNS Cobb. Dallas transferred the migrants and detainees to another cutter for processing.
Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, 1986
In late January 1986, Dallas responded to the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster and served as the On-Scene Commander for what was, at that time, the largest search and rescue operation in Coast Guard history. Dallas received the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation for her key role in that response effort.
Maintenance and Modernization, 1986-1995
Dallas was decommissioned in 1986 to be modernized under the Fleet Retention and Maintenance (FRAM) Program at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The modernization included a telescoping helicopter hangar as well as communications equipment and other electronic upgrades and defensive equipment. These upgrades included fleet satellite communications, chaff anti-missile system, anti-submarine warfare electronics, air-search radar capability and replacement of the cutter’s gun mount and fire control system with a new cannon and Mk-92 gunfire control system,. The FRAM overhaul was begun in 1986 and completed in 1989. Between 1991 and 1993, Dallas received further upgrades, including shipboard command and control systems (SCCS), the Phalanx (CIWS) system for anti-ship missile defense and INMARSAT global commercial satellite telephone link for advanced ship-to-shore telecommunications capability. In the last few months of 1995, Dallas received the most extensive dry dock in Coast Guard history. Renovation included removal of the sonar dome; installation of a new evaporator; overhaul of all electronic antennas, transducers, steering gear and bow prop; upgrading the AN-SPS 40 radar; and conversion of two fuel oil tanks to JP-5 aviation fuel tanks for helicopters and the cutter’s gas turbine engines. In addition, Dallas was sandblasted and painted. The 1995 dry-docking cost 2.2 million dollars.
Haitian Crisis, 1991-1992
During the Haitian Crisis, Dallas served as On-Scene Commander overseeing a flotilla of 27 Coast Guard cutters on station. It was the largest flotilla of cutters ever assembled. As flagship for Task Unit 44.7.4, Dallas established a task force operational organization that still serves as a model for multi-unit operations in the modern Coast Guard. Nearly 35,000 migrants were rescued from hundreds of over-crowded, unseaworthy vessels. Coast Guard cutters transported these migrants to the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where their claims for asylum were evaluated by Immigration and Naturalization officials. For its monumental effort in overseeing of the Haitian Crisis response effort, Dallas received the Humanitarian Service Medal and the Meritorious Unit Commendation with operational distinguishing device.
This tall ship gathering took place in New York Harbor during the 1992 July 4th holiday. The event commemorated the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America was the largest such event in the world up to that time. Dallas acted as command and control platform for all Coast Guard assets as they enforced security along the Hudson River for the parade of ships.
Operation Able Manner, 1993-1994
With the threat of renewed mass exodus from Haiti, Operation Able Manner was begun in January 1993. Employing large numbers of Coast Guard and Navy ships and aircraft, Able Manner was instituted to deter Haitian migrants from attempting a treacherous voyage to the United States. Able Manner began with 22 Coast Guard and Navy ships and 17 aircraft able to respond to any Haitian migrant exodus. It was the largest peacetime operation in Coast Guard history up to that date. Dallas assumed command of these forces as commander Task Unit 44.7.4 on three separate patrols from 1993 into 1994 (February-April, July-September and December-January 1994), earning Dallas a Coast Guard Unit Commendation.
Joint Service Exercise Agile Provider, 1994
In April and May of 1994, Dallas acted as the tactical control unit for three 110-foot U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats as Coast Guard units joined Navy units to conduct an amphibious assault exercise off the beaches near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Dallas assumed the role of Anti-Surface Warfare Commander within the amphibious task force for much of the exercise and was recognized by Navy leadership for outstanding search and rescue coordination and aggressive combat readiness.
50th Anniversary of D-day Invasion, 1994
From May through July of 1994, Dallas conducted a European patrol as part of a tour to represent the U.S. Coast Guard at the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy. The patrol included port calls at 5 cities in Ireland, United Kingdom and France, and participation in the invasion re-enactment fleet. After the commemoration, Dallas carried out goodwill missions in Morocco and the Cape Verde Islands.
Operation Able Vigil, 1994
Soon after the cutter’s D-Day cruise, Dallas returned to Caribbean waters to serve as flagship of Operation Able Vigil, a 27-cutter flotilla responding to another mass migration from Cuba. This operation was the largest Coast Guard-controlled action since World War II. At the close of the 1994 patrol, Dallas coordinated repatriation of Haitian migrants from Guantanamo Bay to Haiti. Dallas received the Coast Guard Unit Commendation for this operation.
Operations Deny Flight and Sharp Guard, 1995
In the summer of 1995, Dallas deployed to the Mediterranean-based U.S. Sixth Fleet as a member of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Battle Group. Dallas supported Operations Deny Flight and Sharp Guard helping safeguard U.S. Navy assets enforcing Deny Flight and supporting the blockade of war material to warring factions of the former Yugoslavia. This was the first time a Coast Guard cutter had operated with the Sixth Fleet. During this deployment, Dallas also participated in Operation Sharp Guard and conducted training and professional exchanges in countries along the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Black seas. Dallas also worked with navies, coast guards and maritime agencies in Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Albania and Italy. During these operations, Dallas became the first Coast Guard vessel to operate in the Black Sea and earned the Armed Forces Medal for its support of these important operations.
Operation Monitor II, 1996
In the late summer of 1996, Dallas served as the flagship for a task unit carrying out Operation Monitor II. Consisting of Dallas and three 110-foot cutters, the task unit, kept a close watch on a flotilla of Cuban-American vessels protesting the sinking of a Cuban tugboat. The operation was a success with the Cuban-American flotilla remaining outside Cuban waters while the Cuban Navy did not intervene.
Operations Frontier Shield and Frontier Lance, 1997-1998
Beginning in 1997, Dallas served as the flagship for Operation Frontier Shield designed to deter drug smuggling with a combination of enhanced surface and airborne radar, infrared surveillance, covert tracking and rapid response aircraft, boats and task forces. In 1998, Operation Frontier Lance built on the success of Operation Frontier Shield. This interagency and international counter-drug operation in the Caribbean was the largest of its kind up to that time. Frontier Lance utilized C-130 aircraft, shipboard HH-65 helicopters and rigid-hull inflatable boats. In addition, for the first time armed MH-90 helicopters took part. This led to the establishment of the Helicopter Interdiction Squadron (HITRON) equipped with MH-68A Stingray armed helicopters. These Caribbean operations proved to very effective with interagency cooperation and vastly improved intelligence provided to operational units.
Operation Allied Force, 1999
In the summer of 1999, during the Balkan Conflict the Dallas was assigned to the Navy’s Sixth Fleet yet again, to support Operation Allied Force. The conflict was resolved during Dallas’s transit to the theater of operations; however, the cutter remained in the region. While there, Dallas helped train the Ukrainian and Georgian navies, the Turkish Coast Guard and the armed forces of Malta.
Operation Noble Eagle, 2001
After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, Dallas participated in Operation Noble Eagle. Stationed off the southeastern U.S., Dallas monitored, boarded, investigated and checked papers of vessels entering American waterways. This operation marked a change in Coast Guard operations as mission focus changed from drug and migrant interdiction to homeland security.
Operation New Frontier, 2002
In the summer of 2002, Dallas deployed with sister-ship Gallatin (WHEC-721) to take part in Operation New Frontier. Together with Gallatin, Dallas supported Coast Guard armed helicopters from the newly established Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) to stop small high-speed (“go-fast”) boats en route from suppliers to their destinations.
Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003
In 2003, Dallas deployed to the Mediterranean to serve once again with the U.S. Sixth Fleet, this time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Dallas served as part of a Coast Guard flotilla including four U.S. Coast Guard 110-foot patrol boats referred to as Patrol Forces Mediterranean (PATFORMED). Initially, Dallas provided force protection and armed escort for Coalition vessels passing through the Strait of Gibraltar and boarded vessels leaving the Suez Canal in search of escaping leaders of the Iraqi regime. Dallas made port calls in various Mediterranean countries before returning to the U.S. with the fleet of PATFORMED’s 110-foot cutters.
West Africa and Black Sea Deployment, 2008
In the spring of 2008, Dallas deployed to West Africa as part of the Africa Partnership Station (APS), in which the cutter strengthened international relationships and hosted law enforcement personnel from Cape Verde. While there, Dallas became the first U.S. vessel to assist a foreign country with enforcing its laws within its own territorial waters. In late summer 2008, Dallas joined the Mediterranean-based U.S Sixth Fleet yet again to participate in Operation Assured Delivery. During this operation, the cutter provided humanitarian supplies to the people of the Republic of Georgia, who were suffering through the South Ossetia War with Russia.
Haiti Earthquake, 2010
After the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010, Dallas deployed to Port-au-Prince to help oversee integrated air and maritime operations and serve as part of the joint military and international force that responded to this large-scale disaster.
The cutter’s awards included two Joint Meritorious Unit Awards, three Coast Guard Unit Commendations, a Navy Unit Commendation (as part of U.S. Sixth Fleet, Task Force 60 in Operation Iraqi Freedom), two Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendations, a Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, three Humanitarian Service Medals, numerous Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbons, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, the Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
CGC MELLON WHEC 717
Keel laid 27 July 1966, Launched 11 February 1967,
Commissioned 22 December 1967
USCGC MELLON’s keel was laid on July 25, 1966 at Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans, LA. CGC MELLON was launched on February 11, 1967 and was commissioned on January 9, 1968. She was named after Andrew W. Mellon 49th Secretary of the Treasury from 1921-1932. MELLON is the third in her class of seven high endurance cutters built by Avondale Shipyards. She was sponsored on her commissioning date by Mrs. John W. Warner Jr. granddaughter of the late Secretary Andrew W. Mellon.
USCGC MELLON launching the Harpoon missile in January 1990. CGC MELLON was designed to perform each of the Coast Guard’s missions, which then included search and rescue, defense operations, law enforcement, environmental protection and oceanographic research. She was built with a welded steel hull and aluminum superstructure. CGC MELLON was one of the first naval vessels built with a combined diesel and gas turbine propulsion plant. The twin screws can use 7,000 diesel shaft horsepower to make 17 knots, and a total of 36,000 gas turbine shaft horsepower to make 28 knots. The diesel engines are Fairbanks-Morse and are larger versions of a 1968 diesel locomotive design. Her Pratt-Whitney marine gas turbine engines are similar to those installed in Boeing 707 passenger jet aircraft. It is worth noting that CGC MELLON was among the first American vessels to use jet aircraft-type turbines for propulsion.
CGC MELLON was classified as a “high endurance cutter,” one which was designed to remain at sea for extended periods of time to undertake mid-ocean search and rescue operations and to conduct law enforcement and national security missions. The 2748-ton cutter’s crossing range is 10,000 miles at 20 knots. This is approximately the distance from New York to Melbourne, Australia. CGC MELLON was originally built with an 80-foot long flight deck and “balloon shelter.” CGC MELLON was one of the newer ships of her class to have a joystick helm. The previous High Endurance Cutters were equipped with standard ship’s wheels as helms. She was also equipped with extensive anti-submarine warfare equipment, including the Mk46 torpedo and the AN/SQS-26 sonar. In January 1990, MELLON was first in her class to fire the Harpoon missile. The ASW and Harpoon launching systems were later removed due to budget constraints.
CGC MELLON makes full use of recent technological advances in shipboard electronics. The Shipboard Command and Control System (SCCS) is the most advanced system in use in the Coast Guard. It incorporates a network of numerous computers including large screen displays and a dedicated satellite network for communications. CGC MELLON is equipped with multiple redundant navigation systems including the Differential Global Positioning System (dGPS). The ship was recently equipped with the AN/SPS-73 digital surface radar system that incorporates a state of the art computerized collision avoidance system. CGC MELLON was also one of the first cutters to employ closed circuit TV cameras to monitor engineering systems and operations on deck. During helicopter evolutions, these cameras eliminate “blind spots” on the ship and enable the crew to conduct these operations with an enhanced degree of safety.
CGC Mellon’s first Commanding Officer, Captain Robert P. Cunningham, was the first Coast Guard aviator to command a 378-foot cutter. Her first crew numbered approximately 150 personnel. The crew began training at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, HI before Mellon’s commissioning.
CGC Mellon was originally homeported in Honolulu, HI. When she arrived in Honolulu, she earned the nickname “Mellon No Ka Oi,” or “Mellon best of all.” She received the Safety Award on August 1, 1968 by Rear Admiral B. F. Engel, Commander, 14th Coast Guard District.
Shortly after her arrival in Honolulu, Mellon departed for a naval show in San Diego, CA. Then considered “state of the art” in naval vessel design, she impressed those in attendance with her maneuverability and speed. She demonstrated the ability to reach speeds greater than 20 knots within two ship lengths from a standing stop. Newspaper accounts reported that she was able to reach a speed of 20 knots in less than 20 seconds and go from full ahead to full astern in less than one minute. The crowds were also impressed with her maneuverability. She was able to Mellon firing exercise during the Viet Nam war be maneuvered into a narrow berth, without the assistance of tugs, through the use of her bow propulsion unit.
Mellon saw extensive service during the conflict in Vietnam. She was twice awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation during the Vietnam War. She sailed as part of Task Force 115 (U.S. Navy Coastal Surveillance Force) which maintained close surveillance over 1,200 miles of Vietnamese coastline and 64,000 licensed watercraft. The task force seized large quantities of war material, preventing it from reaching enemy hands. During her service in the waters adjacent to Vietnam, Mellon also conducted numerous naval gunfire support missions, rescue operations, medical civic action programs and training programs for Vietnamese military personnel.Upon returning from Vietnam, Mellon’s primary theater of operation shifted to an area of the Pacific Ocean known as “Ocean Station November.” Here she performed search and rescue and oceanographic research missions. Coast Guard cutters conducting Ocean Station operations were a primary communication link for commercial aircraft making trans-oceanic flights. Prior to the advent of satellite navigation, weather and communications systems, commercial aviators relied on ocean station cutters, including Mellon, for navigation and weather data. During these ocean station patrols, Mellon provided a vital link for aircraft traveling between the west coast of the United States and the Hawaiian islands. Her job was to establish radio communications with aircraft and ships to facilitate their safe navigation. She also worked closely with elements of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), gathering weather information. Forecasters used this meteorological data to develop weather forecasts for U.S. coastal areas.
While deployed on ocean station duty, Mellon also performed oceanographic research operations. She launched bathythermograph probes into the ocean depths to record temperature and salinity. She also launched weather balloons to record conditions in the upper levels of the earth’s atmosphere.
By the mid-1970s, technological advances rendered ocean station duty obsolete. Improvements in long range communications and the installation of weather and navigation satellite constellations made it unnecessary for the Coast Guard to station high endurance cutters at sea to perform these missions. Mellon’s primary area of operation shifted northward to the icy waters of the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea where she conducted search and rescue operations and enforced U.S. laws and regulations pertaining to fishing in these areas. Soon after her mission shift, the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 was enacted. This act was the baseline for all U.S. fisheries conservation and management activities. It set limits on fishing in order to preserve the resource and it tasked the U.S. Coast Guard with enforcement of these limits.
On her second Alaskan patrol from July-September 1973, Mellon became the first high endurance cutter to moor at the isolated LORAN station on Attu Island in the Aleutian chain.
During a patrol in February 1974, Mellon played a key role in the rescue of crewmembers that survived an explosion, fire and subsequent sinking of the Italian supertanker GIOVANNA LOLLI-GHETTI. CGC MELLON was alerted at midnight of a distress call from a position 230 miles southeast of Hawaii. CGC MELLON arrived on scene at around 1115 the next morning where the Norwegian vessel TAMERLANE was rescuing survivors who had abandoned the Italian tanker. These survivors were then transferred to the CGC MELLON for medical assistance. CGC MELLON put the Italian crew into one berthing area and gave them clean clothes and warm food. A nearby Russian vessel NOVIKOV PRIBOY arrived with many doctors for further medical assistance. All but 7 of the survivors were recovered and taken on CGC MELLON back to Honolulu. This Cold War era rescue, which succeeded only as a result of the close cooperation between vessels from Norway, Russia and the United States, was a positive sign during this period which was other wise marked by intensifying superpower competition
CGC CHASE WHEC 718
Keel laid 15 October, Launched 20 May 1967,
Commissioned 1 March 1968
CGC BOUTWELL WHEC 719
Keel laid 12 December 1966, Launched 17 June 1967,
Commissioned 24 June 1968
CGC SHERMAN WHEC 720
Keel laid 13 February 1967, Launched 23 September 1967,
Commissioned 23 August 1968
CGC GALLATIN WHEC 721
Keel laid 17 April 1967, Launched 18 November 1967,
Commissioned 20 December 1968.
CGC MORGENTHAU WHEC 722
Keel laid 17 July 1967, Launched 10 February 1968,
Commissioned 14 February 1969.
CCGC RUSH WHEC 723
Keel laid 23 October 1967, Launched 16 November 1968,
commissioned 3 July 1969
CGC MUNRO WHEC 724
Keel laid 18 February 1970, Launched 5 December 1970,
Commissioned 27 September 1971.
CGC JARVIS WHEC 725
Keel laid 9 September 1970, Launched 24 April 1971,
Commissioned 30 December 1971.
CGC MIDGETT WHEC 716
Keel laid 5 April 1971, Launched 4 September 1971,
Commissioned 30 March 1972