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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 056-97
February 06, 1997

NAVY ANNOUNCES COMMISSIONING OF COASTAL MINE HUNTER SHIP FALCON (MHC 59)

The Osprey Class Coastal Mine Hunter Falcon (MHC 59) will be commissioned during an 11 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 8, 1997, at Port Arthur, Texas.

Congressman Nick Lampson of Texas is the guest speaker. Lillian Darden, wife of former Georgia Congressman George Darden, is the ship's sponsor and will give the order to man our ship and bring her to life.

Ships in the coastal minehunter class are named after North American birds. Four previous ships have been named Falcon: a Mexican War gunboat (1846-1848); a World War I motorboat which operated in the 13th Naval District; a minesweeper (1918-1946) that conducted rescue and salvage operations during World War II; and a minesweeper (AMS 190) (1954-1976).

Falcon is the ninth ship of the Osprey Class authorized by Congress. Ships of this class are the world's largest mine hunters constructed entirely of fiberglass. This ship's primary mission is the reconnaissance, classification, and neutralization of moored and bottom mines in littoral areas, harbors and coastal waterways. The ship is armed with two .50 caliber machine guns; a high definition, variable-depth sonar; and a remotely-operated, robotic submarine used to neutralize mines.

Lt. Cmdr. Peter Fanta, a native of Casselberry, Fla., is Falcon's commanding officer. With a crew of five officers and 46 enlisted personnel, Falcon will join the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and will be homeported in Ingleside, Texas. Falcon measures 188 feet in length, has a beam of 36 feet and displaces approximately 895 tons when fully loaded.