Lockport, La., headuartered Bollinger Shipyards LLC has delivered the USCGC Emlen TunnelL to the U.S. Coast Guard in Key West, Fla. The ship is the 168th vessel Bollinger has delivered to the Coast Guard over a 35-year period and is the 45th Fast Response Cutter delivered under the current program.
Named in honor of Coast Guard hero and NFL great Emlen Tunnell, the cutter is the fourth of six FRCs to be home-ported in Manama, Bahrain. They will replace the aging 110-foot Island Class Patrol Boats, built by Bollinger Shipyards 30 years ago, supporting the Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest overseas presence outside the United States.
“With recent incursions in the Arabian Gulf, it is a top priority to ensure that the brave men and women of the Coast Guard have the most state-of-the-art, advanced vessels as they work to ensure maritime security in the region,” said Bollinger president & CEO. Ben Bordelon. “Bollinger is proud to continue enhancing and supporting the U.S. Coast Guard’s operational presence in the Middle East and ensuring it remains the preferred partner around the world.”
COAST GUARD HERO AND NFL GROUNDBREAKER
Each FRC is named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished themselves in the line of duty. Emlen Tunnell was instrumental in saving the lives of two shipmates in two different heroic actions.
Tunnell played college football at Toledo before and after World War II — he enlisted from 1943 to 1946 — and continued his collegiate career at the University of Iowa. After leaving college in 1948, he hitchhiked from his home in Pennsylvania to New York for a tryout with the New York Giants. Tunnell was the first Black player signed by the Giants and later played for the Green Bay Packers. He ended up playing 14 seasons in the NFL and when he retired as a player, he held league records with 1,282 interception return yards, 258 punt returns, 2,209 punt return yards, and 79 interceptions – the second most interceptions in NFL history today. He then became a scout and one of the league’s first Black assistant coaches, helping fully integrate both the Giants and the Packers. In 1967, Tunnell was the first Black man and the first defensive specialist to be enshrined in Canton.