In the summer of 1997, the Legare (WMEC-912), a 270-foot medium endurance cutter, was the first of her class to deploy to the U.S. European Command. During the 141-day deployment, we were to conduct military-to-military exchanges with naval forces responsible for coast guard-like operations. Based upon the experiences of high-endurance cutters—the Dallas (WHEC-716) in 1995 and the Gallatin (WHEC-721) in 1996—we anticipated challenging professional exchanges with host country services and many fascinating port visits. We also knew that a special effort to prepare for this deployment was required, as the Legare's normal cycle is to deploy for only six to ten weeks. During our transit home, my shipmates offered unique perspectives on our deployment.
Our principal objective was to conduct professional exchanges to enable the Legare to be a role model for maritime organizations. Lieutenant Doug Schofield, the Legare's assigned engineer officer, volunteered to orchestrate our exchanges.