New cutter, named for Coast Guard hero, in NC


Kristi Langenbacher


By Kristi Langenbacher

Sunday, July 29, 2018


This week the Coast Guard honored a fallen hero and commissioned a fast-response cutter bearing his name. And, that cutter will be home-ported in North Carolina.

The 154-foot fast-response cutter Nathan Bruckenthal was commissioned on July 25 in Alexandria, Va., and will be stationed in Atlantic Beach. The vessel is named for Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal, the first Coast Guard member killed in action since the Vietnam War.

Bruckenthal was 25 and serving as a damage controlman aboard U.S.S. Firebolt as part of Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia. On April 24, 2004, he and two U. S. Navy sailors were killed in the line of duty while conducting maritime intercept operations in the North Arabian Gulf. Bruckenthal and six other coalition sailors attempted to board a small boat near the Iraqi Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal. As they boarded the boat, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the cargo bay of the boat and it exploded.

Bruckenthal later died from the wounds he sustained in the explosion, and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device for his actions. Two Navy sailors were also killed, and four others were injured.

During the commissioning ceremony, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz called Bruckenthal an American hero who embodied the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty. He said naming the cutter after Bruckenthal adds to its strengths.

The Sentinel-class fast response cutter is a new Coast Guard patrol boat that is capable of deploying independently to conduct missions that include port, waterways and coastal security; fishery patrols; search and rescue; and national defense. The fast response cutters are named after Coast Guard enlisted heroes, and are replacing the service’s aging Island-class 110-foot patrol boats.

Rear Adm. Meredith Austin, commander of the Coast Guard’s Fifth District, welcomed Bruckenthal’s friends and family to the ceremony and thanked many people who worked to honor Bruckenthal’s devotion and sacrifice.

“Everyone worked very hard to bring this day to fruition and to bring this ship to life,” she said.

Lt. Bryan Kilcoin, the cutter’s commanding officer, said Bruckenthal volunteered for a second watch on the day he was killed. He also spoke of Bruckenthal’s self-sacrifice and dedication, which will continue to guide his crew.

“The crew of the Bruckenthal will emulate these high standards and values he lived by,” Kilcoin said.

Schultz also spoke of Bruckenthal’s courage and dedication to the Coast Guard and the nation.

“The ship is a visible symbol of everything service stands for and a visible reminder of Nate’s courage and Nate’s sacrifice,” Schultz said. “As we commission this cutter into service Nate’s sacrifice will henceforth be deeply ingrained in the fabric of our Coast Guard history.”


Kristi Langenbacher is a Coast Guard spouse and writes about military family life.