By Marybel Rodriguez

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The U.S. Coast Guard’s effort to replace its aging fleet made another milestone Wednesday morning.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter William Flores sailed on the waters for the first time at 9 a.m.

The trip was a victory lap of sorts, as the ship trekked from its port at Coast Guard Sector Miami three miles to a sea buoy then back to port.

The USCGC William Flores is the third of a planned 58 Fast Response Cutters in the Sentinel Class.

Sentinel Class cutters are replacing the agency’s aging Island-class, 110-foot patrol boats.

According to the Coast Guard’s website, the Sentinel Class patrol boat project will deliver vital capability to the Coast Guard, helping to meet the service’s need for additional patrol boats.

On November 3, the USCGC William Flores will be commissioned into service in Tampa.

As with all the Fast Response Cutters, the ship is named after Coast Guard enlisted heroes. In this case, both the ship and the location of the its commissioning honors Coast Guard Seaman William “Billy” Flores.

On the night of Jan. 28, 1980, Flores, just 18 at the time, died while assisting his shipmates after their cutter, Blackthorn, collided with a large merchant vessel in the Tampa Bay ship channel. His heroism and sacrifice serve as an example for all Coast Guard members and inspire the ship’s motto of “courage in adversity.”


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