There are 16 members of this class of 210-foot medium endurance cutters in the U.S. Coast Guard. Eleven cutters of this class are assigned to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, while three are assigned to the Pacific, where their primary missions are maritime law enforcement and search and rescue. Two Reliance cutters have been decommissioned; USCGC’s Courageous (WMEC-622) and Durable (WMEC-628), both of which were decommissioned in September 2001.
The USCGC Reliance (WMEC-615), the first of class, was laid down at the Todd Shipyards, Seattle Wash., and entered commissioned service in June of 1964. The next two cutters (WMEC-616 and WMEC-617) were also constructed at the Todd yards, while WMEC-618 was built at the Cristy Corporation yard, WMECs 619-620 and 628-630 were constructed at the Coast Guard yards in Baltimore, Md., and WMECs 621-627 were built at the American Shipbuilding Company yard.
The last ship of the class, USCGC Alert (WMEC-630) was commissioned in August of 1969. Designed specifically to meet the needs of open ocean search and rescue work, the 210′ cutters feature a high degree of crew habitability (all spaces with the exception of the engine room are air-conditioned) excellent visibility (the ship offers an unrestricted 360 degree view from the pilothouse) and exhaust gasses were routed out the stern to reduce smoke obscuration of the flight deck during flight operations.
Beginning in 1986 all 16 cutters underwent a Major Maintenance Availability (MMA) overhaul which resulted in a standardization of the propulsion systems (all are equipped with two Alco 16V-251 diesel engines) a re-routing of the exhaust gas into a more conventional, though less problematic, vertical stack arrangement aft of the pilothouse, as well as upgrades and modifications to the ship’s electronics (SPS-73 vice SPS-64(V)1 radar) and replacement of the original 3-inch Mk 75 cannon with a 25mm Mk 38 Bushmaster cannon. Each MMA costs about $20 million per ship, (the original construction cost of each ship was $3.5 million) with the last MMA completed in August of 1997.