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FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: Fire on board delays Diligence departure

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THE FOLLOWING IS A NEWS RELEASE FROM THE COAST GUARD:

WILMINGTON, NC (NEWS RELEASE) -- An electrical fire on a Coast Guard cutter in Wilmington, N.C., Thursday, is delaying its departure for a multi-mission patrol to the Caribbean.

While preparing to leave at approximately 9 a.m., the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence’s general emergency alarm began to sound, alerting the crew to a fire in the engine room. The crew quickly responded and upon investigation, the crew found an electrical fire on one of the ship’s generators.

"It is disappointing and professionally frustrating when after months of hard work maintaining our cutter and conducting, training something like a fire prevents us from achieving full operational potential," said Cmdr. Douglas Goodwin, the commanding officer aboard the Diligence. "Fortunately, no one was injured, and the crew's response prevented damage from spreading. The crew will continue to work hard to restore our aging cutter to fully mission capable status as soon as possible in order to provide critical persistent presence in the maritime domain."

During the ship’s last tour, the crew had to return three weeks early due to a casualty to a another generator.

"The Coast Guard's existing fleet is reaching a point where some vessels are no longer capable of reliably or effectively performing operations resulting in unexpected casualties and lost patrol days as evident today with the cutter Diligence," said Ensign Andrew Price, the public affairs officer aboard the Diligence.

The 49-year-old Diligence and the other medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by a new class of cutters. The new Offshore Patrol Cutter will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard's maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests.

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A last-minute change in plans for the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence this morning. It was scheduled to leave on a new mission, but a problem on board will keep the ship in port.

"It's always tough when they go," Diane Sharp said as she waited to see her son, a Diligence crewmember, set sail. "Their deployments on the boat are shorter, so we don't have to be tormented for too long."

Sharp and other family and friends were ready to say goodbye to the Diligence and its crew Thursday morning, but that all changed within minutes.

A generator on board malfunctioned delaying a counter drug deployment to the Caribbean.

Cmdr. Douglas Goodwin calls his crew's response outstanding.

"They were able to press forward, minimize the damage and isolate it to just the generator," he said.

So those dreaded goodbyes will be put on hold while the crew tries to figure out just what caused the generator to catch fire.

"So we're delayed," Cmdr. Goodwin said. "I don't know how long we're delayed for, but we hope to be getting out to sea soon."

Once at sea the Diligence will head to the Caribbean as planned before continuing to Florida for more training. The Diligence crew deploy for roughly two months before returning to Wilmington.

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