U.S. Coast Guard press release
Emlen Tunnell is the fourth of six FRCs that will be stationed in Manama, Bahrain. Stationing FRCs in Bahrain supports Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the U.S., and its mission to train, organize, equip, support and deploy combat-ready Coast Guard forces in support of U.S. Central Command and national security objectives.
PATFORSWA works with Central Command in conducting maritime operations to forward U.S. interests, deter and counter disruptive countries, defeat violent extremism and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities in order to secure the maritime environment in the Central Command area of responsibility.
Emlen Tunnell served in the Coast Guard during and after World War II (1943-1946) as a steward’s mate. Tunnell was credited with saving the lives of two shipmates on different occasions. In April 1944, Tunnell was unloading cargo from a cargo ship in Papua New Guinea, when it was hit by a Japanese torpedo. Tunnell suffered burns when he used his bare hands to put out a fire on another shipmate. In 1946, he jumped into freezing water while stationed in Newfoundland to save another shipmate who had fallen from the USS Tampa. Tunnell passed away in 1975 and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star by the Coast Guard in 2011.
Tunnell played college football at the University of Toledo and the University of Iowa. After leaving college in 1948, he hitchhiked from his home in Pennsylvania to New York to try out for the New York Giants. He earned a spot on the team, becoming the first Black player for the Giants. He later played for the Green Bay Packers under head coach Vince Lombardi. He was a member of two NFL championship teams and played in nine Pro Bowls. After his playing career ended, Tunnell held scouting and coaching positions for both the Packers and Giants. Tunnell was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, the first Black pro football player to receive the honor.
The Sentinel-class FRCs feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment; over-the-horizon cutter boat deployment to reach vessels of interest; and improved habitability and seakeeping. The cutters are designed for missions including search and rescue; national defense; ports, waterways and coastal security; drug and migrant interdiction; and fisheries patrols.
The Coast Guard has ordered 60 FRCs to date. Forty are in service: 12 in Florida; seven in Puerto Rico; four in California; three each in Hawaii, Texas and New Jersey; and two each in Alaska, Mississippi, North Carolina and Bahrain. Four additional FRCs have been delivered: three will be commissioned at their homeport of Guam later this month and one will be delivered to Bahrain along with Emlen Tunnell after their commissionings. Future FRC homeports include Astoria, Oregon; Boston; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Kodiak, Seward and Sitka, Alaska.