PORTSMOUTH -- The Coast Guard Wednesday showed off the newest ship in its fleet.

The 154-foot Fast Response Cutter Richard Etheridge, based in Miami, stopped in Portsmouth.

She's named for Capt. Richard Etheridge, who was the first African American to command a life-saving station when he was appointed as keeper of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station near Roanoke Island, N.C., Jan. 24, 1880. In 1896, Etheridge led a team of six in the daring rescue of 10 people from a schooner that had been blown off course during a storm. He was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal, the service's highest award for bravery.

The crew stopped there on Tuesday to visit his gravesite, according to the ship's Facebook page.

The cutter, commissioned on August 3, has a crew of 24 and is armed with a stabilized 25 mm machine gun mount and four crew-served .50- caliber machine guns.

The Richard Etheridge is a Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter and the Coast Guard says it's used for port, waterways and coastal security; fishery patrols; search and rescue and national defense missions. They're replacing the aging Island-class 110-foot patrol boats.

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