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Medium endurance cutter
Famous-class cutter USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910)
Famous-class cutter USCGC Thetis (WMEC-910)

The Medium endurance cutter or WMEC is a type of United States Coast Guard cutter mainly consisting of the 270-foot Famous- and 210-foot Reliance-class cutters. These larger cutters are under control of Area Commands (Atlantic Area or Pacific Area).[1] These cutters have adequate accommodations for crew to live on board[1] and can do 6 to 8 week patrols.[2]

Other ships in the classification are the 282-foot (86 m) USCGC Alex Haley, 213-foot (65 m) USCGC Acushnet, and the now-decommissioned 230-foot (70 m) USCGC Storis.[3]

There are 13 vessels in the Famous class, and 14 vessels in the Reliance class. The Coast Guard plans to eventually phase out both of these cutters and replace them with the Offshore Patrol Cutter as part of the Integrated Deepwater System Program.[4]


After World War II, the Coast Guard used the US Navy hull classification system. The large, sea-going cutters were classified primarily as Coast Guard gunboats (WPG), destroyer escorts (WDE), and seaplane tenders (WAVP). In 1965 the Coast Guard adopted its own designation system and these large cutters were then referred to as Coast Guard High Endurance Cutters (WHEC). The coastal cutters once known as Cruising cutters, Second Class and then Coast Guard patrol craft (WPC) were now Coast Guard Medium Endurance Cutters (WMEC)."[5]

Famous-class cutter

The Famous-class vessels have hull numbers in the range WMEC-901 through WMEC-913. Entering service in the 1980s, the Famous-class cutters, designed as replacements for the 327-foot (100 m) Treasury-class cutters and their mission profile, emphasized law enforcement, particularly patrolling the newly established 200-mile (320 km) exclusive economic zone.[5]

Ships in class

USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC-903) moored at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

General characteristics
Displacement: 1,127.2 long tons (1,145 t) full load
Length: 210 ft 6 in (64.16 m) LOA
200 ft (61 m) LWL
Beam: 34 ft (10 m)
Draft: 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m)
Propulsion: 2 × 2,500 hp (1,864 kW) diesel engines
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 75
Armament: 1 × 25 mm chain gun
2 × .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns
Aviation facilities: Helipad
Class overview
Builders: American Ship Building Company, Lorain, Ohio
U.S. Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Maryland
Operators: United States Coast Guard
Sri Lanka Navy
Colombian Navy Coast Guard
Built: 1962–1968
In commission: 1964–present
Completed: 16
Active: 16

The Reliance-class vessels have hull numbers in the range WMEC-615 through WMEC-630. Entering service between 1964 and 1969, the Reliance-class cutters were meant to replace the 165-foot (50 m) cutters of the Prohibition era and were the first major cutter replacement project since the 255-foot (78 m) Owasco-class cutters from World War II.[5]

Ships in class

USCGC Diligence (WMEC-616) in 1965. Note the lack of exhaust stacks and the exhaust ports on the transom on the original design. Reliance class cutters would have the stack added during future overhauls.[5]

Reliance class
Hull Number Name Status
WMEC-615 Reliance Active
WMEC-616 Diligence Active
WMEC-617 Vigilant Active
WMEC-618 Active Active
WMEC-619 Confidence Active
WMEC-620 Resolute Active
WMEC-621 Valiant Active
WMEC-622 Courageous Decommissioned
WMEC-623 Steadfast Active
WMEC-624 Dauntless Active
WMEC-625 Venturous Active
WMEC-626 Dependable Active
WMEC-627 Vigorous Active
WMEC-628 Durable Decommissioned
WMEC-629 Decisive Active
WMEC-630 Alert Active

Courageous was decommissioned on 19 September 2001. She was transferred to the government of Sri Lanka on 24 June 2004 as SLNS Samudura (P-621).

Durable was decommissioned on 20 September 2001. In 2003 she was transferred to the Coast Guard of the Colombian Navy as ARC Valle del Cauca (PO-44).



Famous-class cutter
Reliance-class cutter

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