NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The US Coast Guard Cutter Diligence started a new journey Monday.
It was the very last time the ship departed from the Wilmington Riverfront with cheers and water cannons.
It was the beginning of a new chapter for the Cape Fear, the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence, and those who have served on it.
“We’re sad to see it go from Wilmington, but we’re happy to welcome them to Pensacola,” US Coast Guard parent Troy Lacolla said.
“Um, a little nervous but at the same time, pretty excited,” US Coast Guard Seaman Phillip Ballard said.
Diligence Commanding Officer Luke Slivinski said the ship has been in Wilmington since 1994, but has an even richer history.
“Diligence was one of the first ten revenue cutters in the Coast Guard, so the first Coast Guard Cutter Diligence, was homeported here in 1792,” Slivinski said. “We’re the sixth Diligence in service history, and the fifth to be homeported here in Wilmington, so there’s a significant amount of history related to Wilmington.”
The ship departed from the Wilmington Pier on Memorial Day. Slivinski said the ship will go for a patrol before returning to its new homeport in Pensacola, FL.
Slivinski said the Coast Guard will be coming out with new ships called Off Shore Patrol Cutters.
“They are much larger and capable ships, and Diligence is 56-years-old,” Slivinski stated. “So the cutters in her class are all aging and are ending their service life here in the near future.”
Slivinski said the pier here is not suitable to house one of the larger and newer cutters.
“It’s a dual purpose. We’re moving to Pensacola, because the new ships won’t fit, or can’t be accommodated here,” Slivinski said. “And then also so we can get centralized service with other cutters of our class down in Pensacola.”
Slivinski said years from now the ship will be decommissioned. He told WWAY’s Lakeeda Johnson that as of now, there are no plans to homeport another US Coast Guard Cutter here.