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Welcome to the Fleet, Cutter Melvin Bell

The Coast Guard Cutter Melvin Bell was commissioned as the 55th Sentinel-Class Fast Response Cutter at a ceremony on March 28 in New London, Conn. The cutter is the final of six fast response cutters stationed in Boston.
Cutter melvin bell commissioning in new london
Jen Fyke Web
by Jennifer Crowley Fyke
April 11, 2024

The Coast Guard Cutter Melvin Bell was commissioned as the 55th Sentinel-Class Fast Response Cutter at a ceremony on March 28 in New London, Conn. The cutter is the final of six fast response cutters stationed in Boston.

Susan Curtin, chair of the National Coast Guard Museum Association Board of Directors served as the chairperson of the commissioning committee.

Several Coast Guard Foundation board members were in attendance to welcome the ship to the fleet, including Vice Admiral Sally Brice O’Hara, USCG (Ret.), former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Skip Bowen, USCG (Ret.), Cherrie Felder, and Bob Montgomery.

Cutter melvin bell commissioning in new london crew family committee
Members of the Bell family, Coast Guard leadership and the crew of the Cutter Melvin Bell. Photo by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Matt Thieme.

As is tradition, the Coast Guard Foundation donated $5,000 to establish the cutter’s morale fund.

“Investing in the morale of the Cutter Melvin Bell’s crew isn't just about providing resources—it's about fostering a culture of support, camaraderie, and resilience,” said Susan Ludwig, president of the Coast Guard Foundation “Together, we can ensure that every member feels valued, empowered, and ready to face the challenges that come their way.”

Melvin bell commissioning person behind the namesake
Photos of Melvin Bell courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

About Master Chief Chief Melvin Bell, the Ship’s Namesake


Melvin Kealoha Bell was a master chief electronics technician and served in the Coast Guard from November 1938 to December 1958.  Bell distinguished himself during World War II by transmitting the first warning messages to military installations in Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked. He continued to prove instrumental throughout the war as he helped break enemy codes leading to numerous victories, including the Battle of Midway and in an operation to break up a Nazi espionage network in New York City. Bell became the first Pacific Islander to achieve the rank of chief petty officer, the first master chief electronics technician and the first master chief petty officer of color.

The Coast Guard Foundation has provided morale funds to all six Boston-based fast response cutters, including the Cutter William Chadwick, Cutter Warren Deyampert, Cutter Maurice Jester, Cutter John Patterson, and Cutter William Sparling. The Melvin Bell is  the 55th of 65 planned Sentinel-class ships.

Featured Partner
Bollinger Shipyards has been the dinner sponsor of the Coast Guard Foundation's Tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District for many years. Bollinger Shipyards builds the Coast Guard's Fast Response Cutters and is currently building the Polar Security Cutter, a heavy icebreaker that will conduct Coast Guard missions in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
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