Third fast response cutter launched

The U.S. Coast Guard’s third 154-foot fast response cutter, the William Flores, was launched at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La., today.

Seaman Apprentice William Ray “Billy” Flores was honored posthumously with the Coast Guard Medal after he sacrificed his life to help his shipmates after a collision between his cutter and an oil tanker Jan. 28, 1980. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Seaman Apprentice William Ray “Billy” Flores was honored posthumously with the Coast Guard Medal after he sacrificed his life to help his shipmates after a collision between his cutter and an oil tanker Jan. 28, 1980. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The launch of William Flores into the waters of Bayou Lafourche marks a major milestone as the fast response cutter readies for sea trials, delivery, crew training and eventual commissioning. You can see the launch take place in the photos below.

After commissioning, the William Flores will be homeported in Miami, with a crew of 24 to conduct alien migrant interdiction operations, port, waterways and coastal security patrols, search and rescue, fisheries and national defense missions.

Seaman Apprentice William Ray “Billy” Flores, namesake of the cutter, gave his life to save his shipmates in the frenzied moments after a collision between Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn and the 605-foot oil tanker Capricorn Jan. 28, 1980.

The 19-year-old Flores, who was less than a year out of boot camp, remained aboard Blackthorn as it was sinking and used his belt to strap open the lifejacket locker door, allowing additional lifejackets to float to the surface.

Altogether, 27 of Flores’ shipmates escaped the submerged Blackthorn, but tragically 22, including Flores, perished aboard Blackthorn.

To learn more about the heroes the first Sentinel-class fast response cutters have been named for, check out the Coast Guard Compass series.

William Flores is towed across the highway in Lockport, La., to the pier. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

William Flores is towed across the highway in Lockport, La., to the pier. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

William Flores arrives pierside and is attached to the crane. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

William Flores arrives pierside and is attached to the crane. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Named for enlisted Coast Guard heroes, fast response cutters have an overall length of 154 feet, a beam of 26 feet and are capable of speeds in excess of 28 knots.  U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Named for enlisted Coast Guard heroes, fast response cutters have an overall length of 154 feet, a beam of 26 feet and are capable of speeds in excess of 28 knots. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Fast response cutters also feature a stern launch ramp for rapid and safe deployment of its 7.9-meter small boat.  The William Flores is scheduled to be delivered and commissioned in 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Fast response cutters also feature a stern launch ramp for rapid and safe deployment of its 7.9-meter small boat. The William Flores is scheduled to be delivered and commissioned in 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The launch is one of many steps in the construction process, leading to sea trials and crew training and, eventually, the commissioning of the vessel and commencement of its Coast Guard operations. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The launch is one of many steps in the construction process, leading to sea trials, crew training and, eventually, the commissioning of the vessel and commencement of its Coast Guard operations. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

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  • Bill R

    What a great looking cutter. Love the wheelhouse!

  • Paul Danna

    This is a beautiful vessel, I seen the young man this boat was named after in the picture and I felt so proud of him that I had tears in my eyes, What a honor to name a vessel after a enlisted member of the great service. There are as many great enlisted men and women as with officers, and I think its only right they be honored also like this!

  • Chief CRD

    Good looking cutter. Brings back memories of Base NOLA and precommisining and commissining of the 110s from Bollinger. as a plankowner, I know the feeling of urgency, pride, bewilderment and just plain awe as you prepare to take a brand new cutter out to the Gulf to really get to work. Makes me wish I was back at sea again.
    Good Luck, fair winds and following seas. Chief CRD, one of the last QMCs.

  • SN Polinski

    Good Luck, fair winds and following seas Agree’d. Im glad to see that the Guard is getting new equitment. I was proud tobe in the USCG, abord Galatin,Sherman and Point Borrow. Beautiful vessels and proud ships with great crews! Semper Paratus!

  • John Chassereau

    The 32nd Memorial Service for the 23 crewmembers of BLACKTHORN will take place Sat. 28 Jan 2012 at 1100 in BLACKTHORN Memorial Park Interstae 275 South , north rest area Sunshine Skyway, all are invited to attend.

  • JOSHUA FLORES

    ID LIKE TO BE STATIONED THERE WHERES ITS HOMEPORT?

  • Jeff M

    What an honor to have vessels named after the men and women that have sacrificed so much. I have a personal tie to both the CGC Cyahoga and the Blackthorn. I was aboard the CGC Redcedar which acted as a recovery platform for the Cyahoga. I also was aboard the CGC Buttonwood which replaced the Blackthorn in Galveston TX. After all these years I still feel sorrow for my fellow sailors aboard these two vessels. RIP.

  • Craviotto

    God Bless SA Billy Flores forever. He was my age enlisting in the CG as I did and went above and beyond the call when the need arose. A hero in the truest sense and a well-deserved honor. Whomever made this naming happen; thank you! May this new ship serve well and true. Fair seas and following swells CGC Flores.

  • Rick Elliott

    I remember Billy from my Blackthorn days with him. It was so easy to tell he was special from the first time you met him. I think he would be so floored to see this cutter with his name. I hope her crews take great pride in and great care of her!
    Billy you still bring tears to my eyes but pride to my heart.

  • Edward J McDonald

    “There is no greater love than to lay down ones life for ones friends”. A tremendous honour –but well matched by the sacrifice. We will add William to our prayers. Love to all the Flores. Ted and Jo.

  • Dan Onisko

    All who wrote the above could not have have it better. God’s Blessings to all who have served, are now active , and to those who will follow in our footsteps; But most of all to Those have given the most. You and your families are all in my thoughts and prayers.
    Semper Paratus

  • ME3 Gabriel Aquino

    What an honor it is to serve with such hero’s as William Flores. I serve in the same area that Flores perished in and find it an honor that we still honor his memory by naming an amazing cutter with his name. Semper Paratus!

  • BM2 Michael Fremin

    Joshua,
    unless otherwise stated, we are stationed out of Miami, Fl.
    She is a nice looking cutter.. This is the first time I am a plankowner, and Chief CRD wasright.. specially about the bewilderment..lol..
    Take care all and happy holidays..
    BM2 Fremin
    CGC William Flores (WPC-1103)

  • santeenio

    looking wonderful…

  • Sam Flores

    BM2 Fremin: This is the first time I see my brother’s name and hull #. Hope to meet you and the crew at some point. Keep me posted!

  • Sam Flores

    Thank you for your comments, Rick. We are excited about the fleet dedication just right around the corner!