WASHINGTON – From sea trials in December off Miami, Fla. to the nation's capital March 6, the Coast Guard Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutter Lawrence Lawson is headed to Cape May. 

It will be commissioned March 18 at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, and is under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Rizzo.

Details of the day have yet to be announced.

The Lawson is the second of two cutters to be homeported in Cape May. The first was the Rollin Fritch, commissioned at the center Nov. 19, 2016.

The Lawson sailed up the Potomac River March 6 past the Mount Vernon tomb of George Washington. As the Lawson passed, the crew rendered a salute to the nation's first president.

It moored at the D.C. Fireboat Pier for a public tour March 8.

The 154-foot long Lawson has a 25-foot beam (width), and a maximum sustained speed of 28 knots, according to a release. The vessel is armed with a 25mm machine-gun mount and four, crew-served .50 caliber machine guns.

The new class of patrol boat is capable of deploying independently to execute the service's missions. Its capabilities are deemed greater than the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats it replaces.

The cutter's namesake was Lawrence O. Lawson. He served in the U.S. Lifesaving Service as a station keeper in Evanston, Ill. He led the crew of his oar-powered surfboat into icy stormwaters of Lake Michigan to rescue the entire crew of the steamship Calumet. (See an account of the event below).

From the Coast Guard Compass, the service’s official blog:

Posted Jan. 14, 2014

Written by Christopher Havern

Lawrence O. Lawson was keeper of the Evanston, Ill, Lifeboat Station. Nov. 28, 1889, he and his crew, made up entirely of students from nearby Northwestern University, came to the aid of the foundering steam vessel Calumet.

In the course of affecting the rescue, Lawson and his crew traversed 15 miles through a gale by train, by horseback, and by foot.

After two failed attempts to conduct the rescue by firing a line to the vessel, Lawson decided to launch the surfboat.

Under near-impossible icy conditions, the crew was finally able to launch.

In three successive trips through the breakers, the crew brought all 18 members of Calumet’s complement ashore. The rescue was affected only after the display of extraordinary courage and heroism by the boat’s crew.

For his resolute direction of his crew and dogged conduct of this rescue, Lawson became known throughout the U.S. Life-Saving Service.

His leadership and heroic efforts in the rescue of the crew of Calumet did not go unnoticed, and Lawson was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal on Oct. 17, 1890.

Of this rescue, the U.S. Life-Saving Service Annual Report for 1891 noted that:

It was the opinion of all who were present that, but for the heroic conduct of this student crew, every man belonging to the Calumet must have perished.

In recognition of their noble devotion to duty, each man was presented with the Gold Lifesaving Medal, the highest token of its appreciation that the Department can bestow.

Thanksgiving Day 1889 (28 November) will doubtless ever be remembered by the crew of Calumet, as truly a day for thanksgiving. For on this day the student surfmen of Northwestern and their fearless keeper kept them from a watery grave.

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