There are 16 members of this class of 210-foot medium endurance cutter. The USCGC Reliance (WMEC-615), the first of class, was laid down at the Todd Shipyards, Seattle WA. and entered commissioned service in June of 1964. The next two cutters (WMEC-616 and WMEC-617) were also constructed at the Todd yards, while WMEC-618 was built at the Cristy Corporation yard, WMECs 619-620 and 628-630 were constructed at the Coast Guard yards in Baltimore, MD. and WMECs 621-627 were built at the American Shipbuilding Company yard. The last ship of the class, USCGC Alert (WMEC-630) was commissioned in August of 1969. Designed specifically to meet the needs of open ocean search and rescue work, the 210' cutters feature a high degree of crew habitability (all spaces with the exception of the engine room are air-conditioned) excellent visibility (the ship offers an unrestricted 360 degree view from the pilothouse) and exhaust gasses were routed out the stern to reduce smoke obscuration of the flight deck during flight operations. During initial construction the first 4 cutters of the class (WMEC 615-619) received an unusual CODAG (Combined Diesel and Gas) propulsion system. In this case power was supplied by two Cooper-Bessemer Corporation FVBM-12 turbocharged diesel engines and two Solar Aircraft Company gas turbines. The remaining nine cutters were equipped with only the Cooper-Bessemer diesels. Beginning in 1986 all sixteen cutters underwent a Major Maintenance Availability (MMA) overhaul which resulted in a standardization of the propulsion systems (all are equipped with two Alco 16V-251 diesel engines) a re-routing of the exhaust gas into a more conventional, though less problematic, vertical stack arrangement aft of the pilothouse, as well as upgrades and modifications to the ship's electronics (SPS-73 vice SPS-64(V)1 radar) and replacement of the original 3"/62 Mk 75 cannon with a 25mm Mk 38 Bushmaster cannon. Each MMA cost between 19-21 million per ship, (the original construction cost of each ship was $3.5 million) with the last MMA completed in August of 1997. Eleven cutters of this class are assigned to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, while three are assigned to the Pacific, where their primary missions are maritime law enforcement and search and rescue. Two Reliance cutters have been decommissioned; USCGCs Courageous (WMEC-622) and Durable (WMEC-628), both of which were decommissioned in September 2001.
The Reliance-class cutters are 210 feet long, have a beam of 34 feet, and draw 10.5 feet of water. Their displacement is 1,129 tons at full load and their compliment is 12 officers and 63 enlisted. They have a top speed of 18 knots, and a cruising speed of 14 knots. Their operational range at top speed is 2,700 miles while their maximum cruising range is 6,100 miles. While none is permanently assigned, each Reliance-class cutter is capable of embarking a single HH-65 Dolphin helicopter.
In addition to UHF/VHF communications, the Reliance-class cutters are equipped with a SCCS-210 multi-sensor shipboard command and control system and a single SPS-73 short-range I-band surface search and navigation radar.
Each Reliance-class cutter is armed with a single 25mm Mk 38 Bushmaster cannon.