USCG Names First Sentinel-Class Cutter

Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Thad Allen, presents Peter Kennedy with a Meritorious Public Service Award during an awards ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters, March 19, 2010. Kennedy, a member of the Orleans Historical Society, was recognized for his work in replicating Coast Guard Motorlifeboat 36500 for use as a floating museum, and for preserving Coast Guard history. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Luke Pinneo.

Coast Guard officials announced Friday that the first Sentinel-class cutter will bear the name Bernard C. Webber in honor of the legendary Coast Guard member. Previously designated to be named the Coast Guard Cutter Sentinel, the cutter Bernard C. Webber will be the first of the service’s new 153-ft patrol cutters. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen approved the change of the cutter’s name to allow this class of vessels to be named after outstanding enlisted members who demonstrated exceptional heroism in the line of duty.  This will be the first class of cutters to be named exclusively for enlisted members of the Coast Guard and its predecessor services.

On Feb. 18, 1952, Bernard Webber, Andrew Fitzgerald, Richard Livesey and Irving Maske from Life Boat Station Chatham, Mass., braved 60-ft seas aboard the Motor Life Boat CG36500 to rescue the crew of the S.S. Pendleton that had broken in half during a winter storm off the coast of Cape Cod. At the end of the mission, the crew of CG36500 had saved 32 of Pendleton’s 33 crewmembers, for which they all received the Gold Lifesaving Medal.

"Naming the Sentinel-class cutters after Guardians who started out in the enlisted ranks highlights our heritage, ties our future to our past and ensures that these often unsung heroes are remembered,” said Charles “Skip” Bowen, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard.  “In February 1952, then Petty Officer 1st Class Bernie Webber drove the 36500 through 60-ft seas to rescue 32 men off the stern of the tanker Pendleton to effect what is arguably the greatest rescue ever undertaken by the Coast Guard.  I can’t think of any other Coast Guardsman who deserves the honor of having the first Sentinel-class cutter named after him or her more than Bernie."

The Sentinel-class contract for up to 34 ships is worth up to $1.5b if all contract options are exercised. The Coast Guard plans to build a total of 58 Sentinel-class vessels. Another element of the S.S. Pendleton’s daring rescue lives on as the U.S. Coast Guard conferred the Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award to Peter Kennedy of the Orleans Historical Society for his contribution to the preservation of the service’s history during a ceremony Friday.

Kennedy received the second highest public service award from Allen for restoring the legendary Coast Guard Motor Life Boat CG36500 used in the S.S. Pendleton rescue. After countless days of research and painstaking work to replicate the craft’s original configuration, Kennedy and his Orleans Historical Society crew not only restored CG36500, but enabled the boat to serve as a floating museum. CG36500 is the only remaining, fully-restored and operational 36-foot Motor Life Boat from its class of 132 boats built.

Kennedy’s work to preserve the legacy of CG36500 resulted in the craft’s addition to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and two awards at the 2009 Wooden Boat Show in Mystic, Conn.

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