Coast Guard Cutter James enters the fleet

Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jennifer Robertson

Coast Guard Cutter James, the fifth national security cutter, sits at Base Boston prior to the commissioning ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Cutter James, the fifth national security cutter, sits at Base Boston prior to the commissioning ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Cutter James, a 418-ft National Security Cutter, entered into active service on August 8, 2015 at U.S. Coast Guard Base Boston. The cutter will be homeported in Charleston, South Carolina.

The commissioning ceremony for the Coast Guard’s newest cutter featured Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft who spoke to the crowd of over 1,000 members of the community, press, retired Coast Guard men and women and family of the crew.

“Joshua James began his life-saving career at 15 and saved more than 600 lives,” said the Commandant. “What better namesake for a ship and crew that will serve our Nation with pride for the next half century saving lives, stopping smugglers, maintaining safety and security in the Arctic and wherever national objectives may require.”

The ship sponsor, Charlene Benoit, who is the great-great niece of Joshua James said, “On behalf of my family, we are grateful to the Coast Guard and the commissioning committee for honoring our forbearer this way. We also thank you for bringing Cutter James to it’s commissioning in Boston for it was here in these waters where it all began over 150 years ago.”

As Benoit ordered the ship to come to life, James’ crewmembers climbed the brow and manned the rails in a display that both wowed the crowd and provided enormous pride for the Coast Guard.

“The namesake of our cutter is know throughout the Coast Guard,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicole Brooks, a crewmember stationed aboard Cutter James. “To be part of this piece of history is incredible. I have gained so much experience and knowledge while working endlessly with this crew to get Cutter James ready for sea. I would not change this for anything.”

Ship sponsor, Charlene Benoit, who is the great-great niece of Joshua James, addresses the crew and audience at the commissioning ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jennifer Robertson.

Ship sponsor, Charlene Benoit, who is the great-great niece of Joshua James, addresses the crew and audience at the commissioning ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jennifer Robertson.

Commissioning is the act of officially placing a Coast Guard cutter in active service. Although very different from commissioning in the past, the event marks an important event in U.S. Coast Guard history and is a source of great pride for service members, in particular those who will sail on her

The latest addition to the Atlantic cutter fleet is named after Joshua James, one of the most celebrated lifesaver in U.S. Coast Guard history, credited with saving hundreds of lives from the age of 15 when he first joined the Massachusetts Humane Society until his death at the age of 75 while on duty with the U.S. Life-Saving Service. He was honored with the highest medals of the Humane Society, the United States, and many other organizations.

The former Superintendent of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, Sumner Kimball said this of Joshua James, “Here and there may be found men in all walks of life who neither wonder nor care how much or how little the world thinks of them. They pursue life’s pathway, doing their appointed tasks without ostentation, loving their work for the work’s sake, content to live and do in the present rather than look for the uncertain rewards of the future. To them notoriety, distinction, or even fame, acts neither as a spur nor a check to endeavor, yet they are really among the foremost of those who do the world’s work. Joshua James was one of these.”

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