The Coast Guard commissioned the 18th fast-response cutter into the fleet at a ceremony in San Juan, Puerto Rico on August 26. Coast Guard Foundation Trustee Robert Montgomery presented the crew with a $5,000 gift for their morale fund during the ceremony.
The Tezanos is the latest vessel to be commissioned as part of the Coast Guard’s continuing fleet modernization efforts and is designed to conduct maritime drug interdiction, search and rescue, national defense, and other Coast Guard missions.
Coast Guard Foundation Trustee Robert Montgomery with Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos Lt. Nicholas Herndon.
In fact, just days prior to its commissioning ceremony, the Tezanos responded to a cruise ferry fire which resulted in the 511 passengers and crew being rescued, and stands as the largest maritime evacuation in U.S. waters in recent history.
All fast response cutters are named after a Coast Guard hero with this latest vessel being named after Ensign Joseph Tezanos who served as an enlisted Coast Guardsman and later became one of the first Hispanic American officers to serve in the Coast Guard.
From the official U.S. Coast Guard history on Tezanos:
“April of 1944, (Tezanos was serving aboard) LST 20 moored near an armada of transports… in West Loch, Pearl Harbor, preparing for a top-secret operation named “Forager.” Forager would support the invasion of Saipan, in the Marianas island chain, which was expected to be one of the most hotly contested amphibious landings of the Pacific Theater’s island-hopping campaign. But on 21 May 1944, before the armada could set sail, an explosion on board one of the armada’s LSTs set off a chain reaction among the fleet of heavily loaded transport vessels.
“The ensuing cataclysm resulted in the largest accidentally caused explosion of the war in terms of lives lost, including approximately 600 wounded and dead. After the explosion, Tezanos scrambled aboard a rescue boat along with a gang of several other hastily assembled volunteers. The small boat and its intrepid crew steamed into harm’s way despite the risk of being burned alive or blown up. Tezanos and his shipmates rescued men from the water in danger of drowning and evacuated others from the burning ships. After receiving multiple burns in the line of duty, Tezanos helped save over 40 of the disaster’s survivors.
“For his actions that day, Tezanos received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, one of the highest medals awarded to Navy personnel for wartime rescue operations.”