WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After 26 years of calling Wilmington home, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence has left and will not return.
The history of the Cutter Diligence goes all the way back to 1792.
“The current Diligence is the sixth cutter named Diligence in the Coast Guard Service history,” said Commander Luke Slivinski. “We are the fifth one to be home ported here in Wilmington.”
The ship is 56 years old and near the end of it’s service life. It’ll now port in Pensacola, Florida where it will be maintained and taken care of with ships of its kind until it’s decommissioned.
“We have new cutters that are coming out in the Coast Guard offshore patrol cutters." said Commander Slivinski. "They are much larger, more capable ships. Diligence is 56-years-old this year and the end of her service life is coming in the not so distant future to be replaced by the larger cutters that we couldn’t accommodate in Wilmington.”
For now, the port will sit empty most days.
“I don’t believe the Coast Guard has current plans to home port another ship here but I can’t say for certain there will be another ship,” said Commander Slivinski.
But some want to bring the Diligence back, if possible.
“We are trying to start a movement to bring the Diligence back after three years; I believe that’s when it’s going to be decommissioned, and make a museum out of it,” said Chip Jones with The American Honor Guard of North Carolina.
Dozens of people visited the Wilmington riverfront Monday afternoon to watch the ship set sail for the final time.
“We appreciate their service and we’re just happy to be here on Memorial Day," said Cheryl Gavitt. "It makes it a little more special.”
Bob Fetterman was there. He said he’s volunteered on the Diligence for decades. They let him take home a wooden sign that hung at the port.
“It’s been real fun," said Fetterman. :It kept me young. I’ve done this for 20 years. I really enjoyed it. They’re a good group of people and I’ll miss them.”