Former USCG Cutter Has “Complicated” History With Its New Owners
History is rich with the odd and ironic. One small example is the U.S. Coast Guard recently transferring ownership of the 378-foot high endurance cutter Morgenthau to Vietnam. Morgenthau has what you could call a “complicated” history with its new homeland.
Nothing unusual in transferring an old ship — U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels nearing the end of their service lives are often given to other nations. It’s an easy way to curry favor. “Hey, instead of turning Morgenthau into razor blades, let’s give it to the Vietnamese. Maybe they’ll like us.”
What makes this transfer intriguing is that the former cutter Morgenthau once vigorously attacked Vietnam. Morgenthau was equipped with a 5-inch naval cannon in a forward turret. This is the same size and type of gun that U.S. Navy destroyers would carry. Guns that were used in World War II, for example, in firing on Japanese and German positions during amphibious landings like Iwo Jima, Normandy and many others. Called naval gunfire support, it assists troops ashore.
The cutter Morgenthau was deployed to South Vietnam in 1970-71 during the Vietnam War. The ship carried out a variety of missions. Once of which was naval gunfire support: blowing up stuff ashore with its 5-inch gun. Attacking the country under whose flag it would later serve.
Maybe this transfer is more than just an historical irony, perhaps it’s also a hopeful example of people putting the past aside and moving on.