Coast Guard retires cutter named for Bainbridge Island

Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bainbridge Island, which was retired Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard
U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bainbridge Island, which was retired Tuesday.

After 22 years of service mostly on the East Coast, the U.S. Coast Guard said goodbye to the 110-foot patrol boat Bainbridge Island during a farewell ceremony Tuesday in Bayonne, N.J.

The boat is being decommissioned and replaced by the cutter Sitkinak, which was stationed in Miami Beach.

The Bainbridge Island was the 43rd “Island Class” patrol boat to join the Coast Guard fleet and indeed is named after Bainbridge Island. In explaining the origins of the boat’s name, the Coast Guard describes the island on its website as follows: “Bainbridge Island, Washington, combines the historic charm of lumber mills, strawberry fields, and WWII military bases with rural, pastoral ambiance, setting the island apart from the bustle of the big city next door.”

The cutter had an interesting history, according to news release written Petty Officer 1st Class Gail Dale:

—  Now Capt. Katherine Favery Tiongson was the first minority woman to serve as a boat’s commanding officer in 1991.

—  In 1999, it was part of the search for John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane after it went missing and later discovered to have crashed into Long Island Sound.

—  It supported Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 for a six-month deployment by providing security for ships crossing the Mediterranean Sea between the Strait of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal.

—  The boat helped in the search of EgyptAir 900, which crashed in the Atlanta Ocean, just south of Nantucket Island, on Halloween 2003. The disaster took the lives of all 217 people aboard.

—  Lastly, the Bainbridge Island assisted in search and rescue after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in southern New Jersey in 2012.

“What I will remember most about Bainbridge Island is the resiliency of the crew,” said Lt. Conor Sullivan, current commanding officer of the boat, in the news release. “Half of my current crew members rode out Hurricane Sandy as their belongings were damaged or lost in the storm.”


About Ethan Fowler

Ethan Fowler has more than 20 years of journalism experience with 19 years of daily and weekly newspaper experience covering news, features and sports, as well as being an editor for 14 of those years. He has won several writing awards over the years in Washington state, Virginia, Texas and Georgia, including award-winning investigative journalism. Fowler was paid by the Review & Herald Publishing Association in 2009 to co-author a book, "Brushed Back: The Story of Trevor Bullock," with his wife. The book details the real life of a top minor league pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies organization and his Christian faith. "Brushed Back" has sold more than 2,000 copies since its release.