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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