USCG Cmdr. Christian A. Lee
Fast Response Cutter Richard Etheridge
began refitting Island-class patrol
boats to extend them 13 feet.] I
still see myself on that tour right
now. I was thrilled beyond belief
when they told me that would be
the first ship I would be a commander of.
For over a year and half, the
crew killed themselves to make
that ship work. We put a tremendous amount of blood, sweat and
tears in it. A lot of good came out
of it that people can’t see.
The failed conversion wasn’t
from a lack of trying on our part, as
we seemed destined to fail from
the beginning. For any Sailor, it’s
never a good day when you’re
looking at the back end of a tow
boat as your cutter is being sent up
to Baltimore to be scrapped.
From that project we did learn a lot that has helped us
with the Fast Response Cutter (FRC). We took the lessons learned on the enhanced C4ISR [command, control, computers, communication, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities and the addition
of the stern launch ramp and added those to the FRC.
Finding out I was going to be the commanding officer for one of the first FRCs off the production line was
an incredible turning point in my career. It still feels
like a continuation of the tour I started with the 123-
foot patrol boat conversion.
Since February, we have been training and doing
drills, and adding parts to the cutter and getting assessments, but at this point we want to show the Coast
Guard and the nation what this cutter is capable of.
Working on small boats most of my career, the biggest
lesson I have learned since joining the service is that you
don’t need a big crew to get a lot accomplished. ■
U.S. COAST GUARD
Igrew up in Rockaway Beach, N. Y., was always around the water and saw a lot of daily Coast Guard activity. I
was not too interested in joining the service until high
school, when they recruited me to play football.
While at the Coast Guard Academy, I started to learn
more about the service and I really liked what I was seeing. I graduated in 1997 and started my first tour on the
270-foot Medium-Endurance Cutter Harriet Lane. I
have also worked in the Office of Congressional Affairs
in Washington, D.C., and was the commanding officer
of the 123-foot patrol boat Nunivak.
Working in D.C. was interesting because I reported to
duty in August of 2001. As you know, the world changed
a month later and I felt very fortunate to be there, as the
Coast Guard went through major changes as well.
Nunivak was one of the eight boats that were part of
the failed 110-foot conversion. [As part of the former
Integrated Deepwater System Program, the service
“Working in D.C. was interesting because I reported to duty in August of
2001. As you know, the world changed a month later and I felt very fortunate to be there, as the Coast Guard went through major changes as well.”