Members from Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro stand in formation on the back of the cutter, July 24, 2020. The cutter’s hull day, July 24, correlates with its hull number, 724. (Courtesy photo / U.S. Coast Guard)

Members from Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro stand in formation on the back of the cutter, July 24, 2020. The cutter’s hull day, July 24, correlates with its hull number, 724. (Courtesy photo / U.S. Coast Guard)

Cutter Douglas Munro celebrates Hull Day at sea

USCG WHEC-724 represented on their day — July 24.

The United States Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro, WHEC-724, celebrated its hull day at sea with a display aboard the vessel on July 24.

The hull day was recognized with the cutter’s hully number, 724, lining up with the day and month.

The cutter, commissioned in 1971, is currently on patrol in the North Pacific, supporting search and rescue and fisheries enforcement missions, said Capt. Kevin Riddle, chief of operations for District 17 and former captain of the Douglas Munro, now homeported in Kodiak.

“There’s two aspects of fisheries enforcement that we conduct. The first is domestic fisheries enforcement. That’s making sure U.S. flagged fishing vessels are complying with all U.S. laws and fisheries regulations,” Riddle said. “The second half is international fisheries enforcement. To detect, deter, and prevent illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing on the high seas.”

The fisheries enforcement mission will be the Munro’s primary focus this patrol, Riddle said.

“We have conducted this patrol in the North Pacific now for many years,” Riddle said. “It’s an interesting patrol because you’re boarding fishing vessels,which is something that our crews don’t get to do very often. It’s a very interesting mission.”

[State reports 137 new COVID-19 cases]

The Munro, a Hamilton class high endurance cutter, is one of the Coast Guard’s most experienced vessels. With a crew of roughly 150, a length bow to stern of 378 feet and an embarked MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, the Munro is a large and capable vessel.

“She’s an exceptional ship,” Riddle said. “That class of cutter has served the Coast Guard well for many, many years and they’re doing a great job of doing their mission.”

The vessel is named after Signalman First Class Douglas Munro, known most prominently for his valor in World War II.

“He earned it in the Guadalcanal Campaign,” Riddle said. “He drove his landing craft into enemy fire to protect Marines that were being evacuated from the island.”

Munro was killed by Japanese fire, but he’s remembered in the cutter bearing his name — and beyond. Munro is the only Coast Guardsmen to have earned the Medal of Honor to date. He’s also the only non-Marine to be remembered in the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

“Part of the Coast Guard’s responsibilities is to ensure that the fishing fleets on the high seas are following the appropriate international conventions to preserve the fish stocks on the high seas. That’s one of our statutory requirements as the Coast Guard,” Riddle said. “It shows the United States’ and Coast Guard’s commitment to sustainable fishing.”

All of the Munro’s sister ships initially had hull numbers in the 700s, but all but three have been sold off to foreign militaries with the adoption of the National Security Cutter, the Coast Guard’s replacement for the Hamilton-class cutters like the Munro.

There’s also a new cutter bearing Munro’s name commissioned in 2015, the USCG cutter Munro, WMSL-755.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or lockett@juneauempire.com.

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