PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - The Coast Guard unveiled its most advanced cutter Wednesday, named after the first African American to lead a life-saving station in the U.S.
The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge, bears the name of a man born into slavery in January of 1842. Etheridge became captain and was appointed keeper of the Pea Island Life Saving Station 38 years later.
Today, the newest and most advanced cutter in the Coast Guard's fleet proudly bears Etheridge's name. The Cutter Richard Etheridge is equipped with state-of-the-art command and control technology.
Etheridge was one of the most skilled surfmen at a time when the fife saving service was in need of both leadership and skill.
"After a series of blunders by the Life Saving Service in the mid-1800s, the commandant of the service basically came down to the Outer Banks and said, 'Enough of the cronyism. We need the best people to serve in these jobs.' And white and black alike pointed to Richard Etheridge as the guy who was the best at what he did," said Commander Christian Lee. "They appointed an all-black crew to serve under him because they wouldn't have a white person working for an African-American at the time."
Etheridge and his all-black crew distinguished themselves most notably in 1896 with the daring rescue of a schooner crew in peril during an October Hurricane on the Outer Banks.
They successfully rescued all aboard but it took another 100 years before Ehteridge and his crew were awarded the Coast Guard's Gold Life Saving Metal.
The Coast Guard medevaced two people off Hatteras Island Thursday morning following the closure of the Bonner Bridge.
The Hampton and Division of Fire and Rescue is offering safety tips to reduce the chance of a fire in your home this holiday season.
A woman will have to stay with family members after a fire at her townhouse in Chesapeake Thursday morning.
A 35-year-old Currituck County firefighter is under arrest after a recording device was discovered in the women's bunk at his station.
A Virginia Beach man will serve 15 years in prison for charges related to two armed bank robberies in 2011.
A local convicted robber will serve 15 years behind bars for his part in a robbery at the Oceanfront two years ago.
Charges have been made in a domestic abuse investigation involving a 74-year-old woman in Elizabeth City.