The Coast Guard’s Rollin Fritch is the first cutter of its kind to be based outside the Caribbean. WHYY got an exclusive look inside the vessel during a visit to the Port of Wilmington.
With a crew of more than 20, the patrol boat has lots of different responsibilities from search and rescue missions to intercepting smugglers. U.S. Sen. from Delaware Tom Carper got a tour of the boat recently while it was docked at the Port of Wilmington.
“They have remarkable technology in their ability to go out to sea for extended periods of time and find things that need to be found, stop things that need to be stopped from coming in our country,” Carper said following the tour.
In addition to examining the helm, touring the cabins, checking out the engine room and sampling some coffee from the galley, Carper addressed the crew of the cutter. “The words of the Constitution are words on a piece of paper, you make them real with your service,” Carper, a former Navy captain, said. “On behalf of a grateful nation … I want to say Navy salutes Coast Guard, God bless you, thank you for your service.”
The cutter is armed with a 25mm machine gun and is able to fully coordinate its response with both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense as it protects assets along the East Coast like the Port of Wilmington. “The bad guys are looking for ways to get stuff in, to get drugs in,” Carper said. “You try to send it. We have the technology and the men and women to stop them.”
Back on shore, Carper also examined some of the latest technology being used by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents at the port. That equipment includes a mobile cargo x-ray machine that can scan large cargo trucks. “It’s just terrific to be able to see the investments in the men and women in Customs and Border Patrol and the investments in technology to detect in some cases people in vehicles, in some cases drugs, in some cases weapons,” Carper said. “To be this good finally is very encouraging.”