The “Pacific Prowler” concludes its service in the Pacific

Written by the 14th Coast Guard District Public Affairs Staff

Capt. Michael Long, commanding officer, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, and the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) pose for a picture following the decommissioning ceremony on Base Honolulu, March 16, 2018. The Galveston Island conducted living marine resources, maritime law enforcement, ports, waterways coastal security and search and rescue around Guam and the Hawaiian Islands. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

Patrol boats are synonymous with the Coast Guard. The Island Class patrol boats were first introduced in 1985 to replace the Cape Class. Those vessels were originally developed as a surface warfare boat and as a replacement for their aging predecessor, the World War II vintage wooden 83-foot patrol boats used mostly for search and rescue duties. The Island Class are a modification of a highly successful British-designed patrol boat.

The Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349), one of the last 110-foot patrol boats, decommissioned after nearly 26 years of service as part of ongoing recapitalization efforts during a ceremony at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, March 16.

Its years of service included numerous law enforcement cases, safety and security enforcement patrols, presidential security operations, and a variety of noteworthy rescues at sea.

Members of the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) fold up a battle ensign after flying it off Honolulu while en route to their mooring at Coast Guard Base Honolulu on Sand Island following their final underway trip March 9, 2018. The Galveston Island is scheduled to be sold to Costa Rica. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir/Released)

“The ship has been integral to the Coast Guard’s numerous missions and District Fourteen initiatives since its commissioning,” said Lt. Steele Johnson, commanding officer of Galveston Island. “The island class patrol boats have been the workhorses of the Coast Guard for nearly 30 years, and this ship has been no exception. Serving with this fine crew on such an accomplished ship and platform has been the highlight of my career, and I’m extremely proud and blessed to have done so. The crew’s accomplishments and dedication to excellence honor those crews that have come before us, and set the standard for crews of any ship to come. The Galveston Island may leave our service today, but its legacy lives on.”

The Galveston Island entered commission-special status in a ceremony held at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, Louisiana, Feb. 24, 1992. On its maiden voyage, the crew stopped in Galveston, Texas, where the governor of Texas presented them with their own set of Texas longhorns for the ship. The mayor of the city also declared March 28 and 29 “USCGC Galveston Island Day” in the city.

Galveston Island was commissioned in Honolulu, June 8,1992, by Rear Adm. William C. Donnel, then commander, Coast Guard 14th District. His wife, Mrs. Patricia Donnell was the ship’s sponsor.

Johnson took command of Galveston Island knowing it would be the final chapter for the ship in the U.S. Coast Guard. During that time the crew, as those before, continued to embody teamwork, positivity, and ownership of all they do.

“There are many layers to our team. We can only meet the mission by supporting each other and with the support of our families. I’ve asked my crew to push each other to get better every day and remember the sacrifices our families make so we can serve this great nation. Each of them knows you are the only one that controls your character and attitude! A positive attitude and steadfast character are infectious. I’ve asked they all be a leader that others want to follow and they have delivered in spades.

It has been our goal for Galveston Island to be the finest ship ever decommissioned and I insisted we not accept any poor material condition or inoperable equipment. She has been our ship and served well. We achieved that goal,” said Johnson.

Seaman Calsea Clemens prepares for an ammunition transfer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) in Pearl Harbor during their final underway trip March 9, 2018. The Galveston Island is a 110-foot Island-class patrol boat scheduled to be decommissioned March 16. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir/Released)

Known as the “Pacific Prowler,” Galveston Island always served the pacific region. Its first homeport wasApra Harbor, Guam, and shifted to Honolulu in the late summer of 2006. At that time the ship assumed the motto, “kelamoku nō ka ‘oi” meaning “the best sailor”.

In 2012, the cutter’s crew made history when a Chinese Maritime Safety Administration ship pulled into the Port of Honolulu marking the first time an MSA patrol boat visited a U.S. port. The 367-foot MSA ship, Haixun 31, made the historic port call to participate in a combined search and rescue exercise alongside Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island. Together the two ships, working with Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, formed building blocks towards a cooperative partnership. Over the course of a few days, the two ship’s crews took part in joint exercises which included using vessels and helicopters from both countries in search and rescue scenarios.

In recent memory, the crew partnered with local agencies to support Operation Kohala Guardian to educate the community regarding whale sanctuaries and enforce boating practices that ensure the safety of the whales. They also partner with other nations to build understanding and advance the district commander’s intent. They showcased this partnership effort in April of 2017, as the crew conducted a five-day patrol throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands with an embarked a Samoan shiprider, who served as an observer during six of the eight boardings, issuing 23 notices of violation and 22 safety violations. The boarding team also terminated the voyage of the fishing vessel, Lady Anne Margaret, after a non-U.S. citizen was found to be serving as master of the U.S. documented vessel.

This type of patrol directly supports missions under the Ocean Guardian Strategy to protect the nation’s living marine resources, ensure fish for the future and economic stability by employing the right tools in the right place at the right time. The Coast Guard’s goal is to ensure the overall safety of the Hawaii-based commercial fishing fleet, provide presence and enforce the fishing laws and regulations within our Exclusive Economic Zone, which ultimately safeguards fish stock sustainability. Now the Fast Response Cutters, recently arrived in Honolulu will take up this mantle.

Galveston Island is the last of 49 Island Class cutters built to replace the 95-foot Cape Class cutters. With a 16-person mixed-gender crew and an operating range exceeding 2,300 miles, it has been an excellent platform to conduct search and rescue response, ports waterways and coastal security operations, and to enforce the laws and treaties of the United States. The U.S. State Department is coordinating the transfer of Galveston Island through the Foreign Assistance Act. This act allows the transfer of excess defense articles as a grant to friendly, foreign governments.

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