Well-named cutter

December 9, 2012 

The men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard save lives at sea even in astonishingly treacherous conditions. That was certainly the case when Coast Guard helicopters and rescue swimmers saved 14 crew members of the tall ship HMS Bounty as it sank during Hurricane Sandy off our coast. It was equally true decades ago, when the intrepid surfmen of the U.S. Life-Saving Service (a predecessor of the current Coast Guard) rowed out to rescue people from ships driven onto Outer Banks shoals.

In a fitting bow to that history, the Coast Guard’s newest cutter, a 154-foot fast response vessel based in Miami, is named for Capt. Richard Etheridge. Not only was the North Carolina native – born into slavery – the keeper of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station near Roanoke Island, in 1896 he led a particularly daring rescue of the crew of the E.S. Newman.

Last week crew members of the cutter Etheridge visited Richard Etheridge’s grave on Roanoke Island. He’ll be someone to remember when the going gets rough.

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