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In February 1942, the US Coast Guard adopted the US Navy's ship classification system whereby a vessel was designated with a two-letter abbreviation (based on the type of ship) and its hull number. Thus, the large, seagoing cruising cutters of the first class became gunboats, or "PG." To differentiate them from their US Navy counterparts, all US Coast Guard cutters were given the prefix "W" at that same time. (The W was an unused letter on the Navy's designation alphabet and was arbitrarily assigned to designate a "United States Coast Guard cutter"β€”it does not stand for any particular word.) The US Coast Guard also began assigning an exclusive hull number to each cutter.
 
In February 1942, the US Coast Guard adopted the US Navy's ship classification system whereby a vessel was designated with a two-letter abbreviation (based on the type of ship) and its hull number. Thus, the large, seagoing cruising cutters of the first class became gunboats, or "PG." To differentiate them from their US Navy counterparts, all US Coast Guard cutters were given the prefix "W" at that same time. (The W was an unused letter on the Navy's designation alphabet and was arbitrarily assigned to designate a "United States Coast Guard cutter"β€”it does not stand for any particular word.) The US Coast Guard also began assigning an exclusive hull number to each cutter.
   
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After the end of the war and the US Coast Guard's transfer back to the control of the US Treasury Department, the US Coast Guard continued to use the US Navy's system. The large, seagoing cutters were classified primarily as "WPG," "WDE", and "WAVP" (Coast Guard gunboats; Coast Guard destroyer escorts; and Coast Guard seaplane tenders). This changed in 1965 when the service adopted its own designation system and these large cutters were then referred to as Coast Guard High Endurance Cutters or "WHEC." The coastal cutters once known as "Cruising cutters, Second Class" and then "WPC" (Coast Guard patrol craft) under the US Navy system were now Coast Guard Medium Endurance Cutters, or "WMEC." Patrol boats continued to be referred to by their US Coast Guard/US Navy designation, i.e. "WPB. "
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After the end of the war and the US Coast Guard's transfer back to the control of the [[US Treasury Department]], the US Coast Guard continued to use the US Navy's system. The large, seagoing cutters were classified primarily as "WPG," "WDE", and "WAVP" (Coast Guard gunboats; Coast Guard destroyer escorts; and Coast Guard seaplane tenders). This changed in 1965 when the service adopted its own designation system and these large cutters were then referred to as Coast Guard High Endurance Cutters or "WHEC." The coastal cutters once known as "Cruising cutters, Second Class" and then "WPC" (Coast Guard patrol craft) under the US Navy system were now Coast Guard Medium Endurance Cutters, or "WMEC." Patrol boats continued to be referred to by their US Coast Guard/US Navy designation, i.e. "WPB. "
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Regardless of their changing designations, the largest cutters in the fleet have always been ocean-going vessels capable of handling a multitude of missions in any weather.
   
Regardless of their changing designations, the largest cutters in the fleet have always been ocean-going vessels capable of handling a multitude of missions in any weather.
 
 
This is not meant to be a complete history of high endurance cutters. Rather, this page is an history of the differing types of ships the US Coast Guard has designated "high endurance" and the changes these cutters underwent over the years between World War II and the Millennium.
 
This is not meant to be a complete history of high endurance cutters. Rather, this page is an history of the differing types of ships the US Coast Guard has designated "high endurance" and the changes these cutters underwent over the years between World War II and the Millennium.
 
 

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