NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In North Charleston, a community welcomed home the newest cutter of the Coast Guard Friday. The USCGC James made its way to its inaugural home port to the open arms of friends and family.
At 418 feet, 4,500 tons, James is a Legend-class National Security Cutter (NSC), built for high speed and endurance.
James is the fifth of eight planned NSC vessels, and the second cutter to be home ported on the East Coast. James, which is named for 19th century sea Capt. Joshua James, will be part of the most challenging maritime operations, ranging from law enforcement to homeland security, according to the Coast Guard.
The new cutters will also replace aging vessels that have been in use since the 1960's. The Coast Guard said the NSC is the "centerpiece" of the fleet.
But James' cargo was even more precious for those waiting on shore.
Michelle Bowie got up at 5:30am Friday morning to catch the cutter as it crossed under the Ravenel Bridge.
"It was awesome," Bowie said. "It was really exciting when I first saw them coming up over the horizon, and the fire boats shooting out their water like fountains."
Bowie was one of many family and friends gathered on shore, waiting with homemade signs for crew to disembark.
"It's a great feeling to come back home and be with my family," Coast Guard member Chris Bean said. "Everything I work for, is for them," Bean said, of wife Jennifer and son, Logan.
Jennifer Bean stood by as the father and son embraced.