The Coast Guard held a heritage recognition ceremony May 2 in Cape Canaveral to honor the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Confidence (WMEC 619) and recognize its 58 years of service.

The ceremony was presided over by Cmdr. Thomas Martin, commanding officer of Confidence, and retired Rear Adm. James Underwood, 15th commanding officer of Confidence, was a guest speaker at the ceremony, which served to celebrate the Confidence’s contributions to the service and Nation in the presence of cutter leadership, current and former crew members, families, and friends.

The event also marked the ship’s exit from active-duty service for an indeterminate time, placing it in commission, special status. The 210-foot Confidence operated as a Coast Guard Atlantic Area command asset, based in Portsmouth, Virginia, and was most recently homeported in Cape Canaveral.

In 1965, the Coast Guard began construction on Confidence at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, Maryland and it was commissioned in 1966. The cutter is the fifth of 16 vessels built in the Reliance-class of medium endurance cutters operating in the Coast Guard’s fleet. These cutters were designed for search and rescue as well as law enforcement missions such as counterdrug and migrant interdiction.

The cutter spent its first 17 years assigned to the Coast Guard Seventeenth District and was homeported in Kodiak, Alaska. While patrolling the Bering Sea, northern Pacific Ocean, and Aleutian Islands, Confidence carried out missions to counter domestic and foreign vessels found in violation of treaties and engaging in illegal fishing practices.

Confidence’s crew fought a fire on the abandoned tugboat Pacific Titan in May of 1967, later towing it to Adak, Alaska. On July 17, 1967, Confidence seized the Japanese fishing vessel Tenyo Maru 3 for fishing within U.S. territorial waters off Alaska.

On March 1, 1968, Confidence rescued 3 fishermen from an oarless small boat adrift approximately six miles off the coast of Cape Creville, Alaska after they were spotted by a cargo ship. The fishermen had previously abandoned their fishing vessel Chirikof after it capsized off Kodiak Island. Days later, the crew was too weak from hypothermia to climb up the cargo ship’s ladder. Confidence arrived on scene to pull the men aboard from their skiff.

Throughout the 1970s, Confidence’s crews seized international vessels originating from the Soviet Union, South Korea, Panama, and other nations for violating U.S. fishery laws.

In the Spring of 1983, Confidence relocated to the Coast Guard’s Thirteenth District with a new homeport of Port Angeles, Washington, where the cutter carried out several drug interdictions at sea.

On July 23, 1984, the cutter interdicted sailboat Haja 150 miles off the coast of California with 30 pounds of marijuana on board. Confidence later seized motor vessel Eagle 1 with 506 pounds of cocaine stashed in a secret onboard compartment on Jan. 19, 1986, while underway in the Juan de Fuca Strait. It was the largest cocaine seizure on the U.S. West Coast at the time.

After completing a nearly two-year Major Maintenance Availability at the Coast Guard Yard in June of 1988 to upgrade onboard systems and conduct structural renovations, Confidence relocated to its present duty station of Cape Canaveral. Once it began operating in the Coast Guard Seventh District, the cutter played a large role in migrant interdiction in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

During the 1990’s, Confidence participated in immigration operations by interdicting Cuban and Haitian migrants leaving their countries in unseaworthy and overcrowded vessels. While participating in Operation Able Vigil, the crew of Confidence rescued 1,123 Cuban migrants within four weeks. In early 1997, Confidence also interdicted 428 Haitian migrants during Operation Able Manner.

In 2005, Confidence was one of the first government vessels to respond after Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

In January 2007, Confidence underwent the Mission Effectiveness Project, a second upgrade at the Coast Guard Yard to overhaul mechanical systems and receive a new davit system to launch the over-the-horizon cutter boat, prolonging the cutter’s lifespan further.

Recently, Confidence offloaded more than 12,100 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $160 million at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Sept. 19, 2023, following multiple at-sea drug interdictions by various Coast Guard units to include Confidence.

During the cutter’s last patrol, Confidence’s crew interdicted two unsafe migrant ventures in the Windward Passage and oversaw the humanitarian treatment and processing of 65 migrants from various countries of origin. The crew also assisted a damaged, U.S.-flagged vessel low on fuel off the coast of Haiti.

“To the crews of Confidence, past and present, thank you all for the work you put forth in maintaining and operating this cutter for the past 58 years,” said Capt. Brian Anderson, chief of operations at Coast Guard Atlantic Area. “Confidence has served this nation proudly as a multi-mission platform for almost six decades, but without her crew she is just a shell. The crew breathes life into the steel, making it a Coast Guard cutter.”

The Confidence now transitions into an inactive shipyard status as part of the Coast Guard’s greater “AY24 Force Alignment Initiative,” a program to temporarily adjust operations to better reflect the approximate 10% shortage of enlisted members while the Service reassigns personnel and assets to ensure the essential mission readiness demanded by the American public.

This initiative will enable the Coast Guard to meet growing demands for the service’s unique capabilities and authorities during the workforce recruitment and retention challenges facing all U.S. military service branches.

“The Coast Guard cannot maintain the same level of operations with our current shortfall – we cannot do the same with less,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Heath Jones in a joint statement. “Conducting our missions is often inherently dangerous, and doing so without enough crew puts our members and the American public at increased risk.”

Once back at the Coast Guard Yard, Confidence’s current crew will transfer to a different cutter, a step taken to help ensure the Coast Guard’s ability to prioritize lifesaving missions, national security, and protection of the Maritime Transportation System with no degradation to these critical services.

“It has been an honor for the crew to carry on Confidence’s 58-year legacy of outstanding service to the nation,” said Cmdr. Thomas Martin, commanding officer of Confidence. “It is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of all the crews that came before us that this cutter has been able to successfully execute the mission for almost six decades.”

Confidence is a 210-foot, Reliance-class medium endurance cutter with a crew of 77. Since commissioning in 1966, Confidence has executed counterdrug and migrant interdiction operations, enforced federal fishery laws, and conducted search and rescue missions in support of Coast Guard operations throughout the Western Hemisphere.