USCGC Richard Etheridge (WPC 1102)
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Coat of Arms


Description/Blazon

SHIELD

Per fess crested Celeste (Old Blue) and Azure, crested Argent, in chief a lantern Sable, bearing the Roman numeral "XVII" Or, emitting a beam from either side Proper, in base a mullet of nine points of the third surmounted by another Argent (Silver Gray), a roped orle of the fourth, the ends entwined on both sides of the lantern ring.


CREST

From a wreath Argent and Celeste (Old Blue), between the tips of two pine branches Proper, seven chain links in arc, six links Argent (Silver Gray), the center link Gules, superimposed by a musket with bayonet and Naval sword Proper in saltire, points upward, surmounted by an anchor Or.


SUPPORTERS

Behind the shield, attached to a pike and oar in saltire, point and blade upward, a hurricane warning flag, all Proper.


MOTTO

A scroll Or garnished Argent edged Gules and inscribed "IN BEHALF OF HUMANITY" in Black.


SEAL

This cutter is the second in the new Sentinel Class. The Coat of Arms is blazoned in full color on a white disk enclosed by a dark blue border edged on the outside with a gold rope and inscribed "USCGC RICHARD ETHERIDGE" above and "WPC 1102" below in gold.

Symbolism

SHIELD

The shield is a modification of the surfman's token, illustrating the coin given to sentries on patrol duty by the station keeper to prove that the surfmen were performing their duties. The lantern emitting the beams symbolizes the search for seafarers in danger, representing Captain Richard Etheridge, a former slave and U.S. Army Civil War veteran, who was appointed in 1880 as the first African American Keeper of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station. The Roman numeral "XVII" denotes the Pea Island Station being known as Station 17 during Captain Etheridge's service as Keeper. The background of the shield recalls the night of a terrifying storm, October 11, 1896, that blew the three-masted schooner, E.S. Newman 100 miles off course on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, an area known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." The ship ran aground two miles south of the Pea Island Station. The nine-pointed star signifies the distress signal from the ship, observed by Surfman Theodore Meekins, who quickly notified Keeper Etheridge. The crested partition signifies rough waters and alludes to Richard Etheridge's swift thinking, securing two of his strongest swimmers to a long line anchored by the remaining Station crew on shore. The surfmen swam towards the wreckage, tied a line around one of the ship's crewmen, and all three were then pulled back to shore. The two surfmen returned to the ship multiple times, eventually rescuing nine people, including a child, indicated by the nine points of the star. The roped orle tied around the lantern ring commemorates the heroic rescue by Keeper Etheridge and his surfmen of the Pea Island Station.


CREST

The two pine branches symbolize the State Tree of North Carolina, the birthplace of William Etheridge and the state to which he returned after the completion of his Army service. He is buried with his family at the Pea Island Life Saving Station where he spent most of his life protecting those that sailed off the Carolina coast. The chain links connote the unity between Keeper Etheridge and his all-African American crew, which earned the station the reputation of "one of the tautest on the Carolina coast." The red link personifies his valor and merit. The anchor denotes sea prowess and maritime service. The crossed musket with bayonet and Naval sword are emblematic of Etheridge's readiness to lead, both as a non-commissioned officer during the Civil War, becoming the highest ranking NCO in his regiment, and in his Navy career.


SUPPORTERS

The pike and oar, adapted from the emblem of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, identifies Keeper Etheridge as an experienced surfman and the first African American to command a life-saving station. It also signifies the present-day search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, and homeland safety mission of WPC 1102. The two hurricane warning flags, used to indicate winds 64 knots and above, further recall the horrific storm of 1896.


MOTTO

The scroll, illustrating the ribbon of the Gold Life-Saving Medal, is draped at the base of the pike and oar and honors Keeper Etheridge and his courageous crew, posthumously awarded the medal in 1996 for their heroic rescue of the E.S. Newman crew. Keeper Etheridge fought to abolish slavery and was active in the struggle to end the mistreatment of African Americans. During his military service in Virginia in 1865, he drafted a letter to the Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, protesting the mistreatment that newly freed blacks were suffering at the hands of the occupying army. Because of his courage and commitment, it is appropriate that the Ship's motto, "IN BEHALF OF HUMANITY," commemorate Richard Etheridge's devotion and service to others.





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