DILIGENCE I was one of the first ten U.S. Revenue Cutters. Built in 1791 in Washington, North Carolina, DILIGENCE I temporarily sailed out of New Bern, NC prior to moving to her permanent homeport of Wilmington in October of 1792. DILIGENCE I distinguished herself by seizing a noted French smuggler in the Cape Fear area. The cutter's original master, Thomas Cooke, and his son, mysteriously disappeared in 1796 never to be seen again. Purportedly, the Cooke's were killed in retribution for interdicting smugglers. The original Cooke home on 4th Street near St. Mary's church in Wilmington is reportedly haunted by the soul of Thomas Cooke.
DILIGENCE II, III, and IV quickly replaced DILIGENCE I. Each new cutter was bigger and faster, and all remained homeported along the Cape Fear River. By the 1830's, the DILIGENCE line temporarily ended after DILIGENCE IV was decommissioned.
DILIGENCE V, a 125' diesel-powered Coast Guard Cutter was commissioned in 1919 and sailed out of New York, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Cleveland, Ohio and finally Long Beach, California before being decommissioned in 1961. DILIGENCE V guarded the American coast against smugglers during the prohibition era and also served under the Department of Navy in World War II.
USCGC DILIGENCE (WMEC 616)-the sixth cutter named DILIGENCE-was commissioned in 1964. DILIGENCE is a Medium Endurance Cutter (WMEC) with 76 crewmembers. Originally home ported in Key West from 1964-1983, then Cape Canaveral, Florida from 1983-1990, DILIGENCE was temporarily decommissioned for modernization at the Coast Guard Yard from 1990-1992. Following a $28 million refurbishment, a rebuilt DILIGENCE was placed back in commission and once again Wilmington, North Carolina-a designated Coast Guard City-was home to a Coast Guard Cutter DILIGENCE. DILIGENCE departed Wilmington in May of 2020 and is currently home ported aboard U.S. Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.
DILIGENCE is at sea approximately 185 days a year, with patrols generally lasting 6-8 weeks. During patrols over the last few years, DILIGENCE has performed domestic fisheries enforcement in the North Atlantic, Migrant Interdiction in the Straits of Florida and Windward Pass, and Counterdrug Operations in the Caribbean Sea. DILIGENCE is usually out to sea 10-14 days at a time before stopping at port call for logistics and crew rest.
Coast Guard Compass Article—The Long Blue Line: Diligence – historic cutter, OPC namesake