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Coast Guard accepts 54th fast response cutter


The 54th fast response cutter, William Sparling, was delivered to the Coast Guard July 20, 2023, in Key West, Florida. It will be homeported in Boston. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Coast Guard accepted delivery of the 54th fast response cutter (FRC), William Sparling, July 20 in Key West, Florida. William Sparling will be the fifth FRC to be homeported in Boston. 

William Sparling was one of the first Coast Guard enlisted members to be awarded the Silver Star Medal, one of the nation’s highest military awards for valor in combat. Sparling served as a landing craft coxswain during the Battle of Tulagi, a strategically important island in the Pacific theater, during World War II. The island was captured by enemy forces in May 1942, and Allied forces were concerned that the occupation of Tulagi would be used to threaten Allied units and supply routes in the region. Allied forces arrived at Tulagi on Aug. 7, 1942, to reestablish control of the island. The amphibious assault, supported by the landing craft piloted by Sparling and other coxswains, was the first U.S. offensive of World War II and was one of the first in a series of battles that defined the Guadalcanal campaign. 

During the invasion, Sparling and other coxswains landed the first wave of U.S. Marines from USS McKean on the beaches of Tulagi. Over the next three days of fighting, Sparling and others made repeated trips between the Navy destroyer and Tulagi to deliver equipment, ammunition and other supplies to Marines as they engaged a determined occupying force of 800 troops. On Aug. 9, the remaining enemy forces surrendered, and the Allies successfully secured Tulagi. 

The Coast Guard has ordered 65 FRCs to date. Fifty-two are in service: 13 in Florida; seven in Puerto Rico; six in Bahrain; four in California; three each in Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts; and two each in Mississippi and North Carolina. Future FRC homeports include Astoria, Oregon, and Kodiak and Seward, Alaska. 

For more information: Fast Response Cutter Program page