By Slab Squatthrust
PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday commissioned the USCGC Ashton Kutcher (WCC 1256) at Penn’s Landing in honor of the actor who played a Coast Guard rescue swimmer in the film The Guardian.
Adm. Linda Fagan, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, presided over the ceremony and invited Mr. Kutcher, who was not present at the ceremony. However, Lt. Benjamin Wilbanks, an extra in The Guardian, was the ship's sponsor.
"We are so thankful to the Coast Guard for this immense honor. I can't imagine the impact Ashton had on all of you in the Coast Guard. He doesn’t view himself as a hero, but the Coast Guard damn sure says he is. As a person who met him once at craft services, it is a privilege to be a participant in this commissioning as the Coast Guard Cutter Ashton Kutcher is placed into service," said Wilbanks.
The cutter's namesake is to honor actor Ashton Kutcher, who plays the fictional character Jake Fischer, a high school swim champion with a troubled past that joins the U.S. Coast Guard's "A" School, where he meets a legendary rescue swimmer who teaches him what it means to be a Coastie. Despite the film's 37% score on Rotten Tomatoes and mediocre opening weekend in 2006, the film has inspired generations of men and women to join the Coast Guard. Duffel Blog was unable to verify if any of these men and women became heroic rescue swimmers.
Ashton Kutcher is the first Celebrity-class fast response cutter, which carry the name of an actor who played a U.S. Coast Guard enlisted hero, although their mission is not yet clear. The Ashton Kutcher crew will transit to homeport later this year alongside its soon-to-be commissioned sister ship, the USCGC Kevin Costner (WCC 1036).
Fagan added that the Celebrity-class cutter is a game-changer in the posture of Coast Guard cutters that look really cool but don’t serve a purpose. The Kutcher and Costner will be scheduled to parade around the Northeastern coast for the next 50 years after a series of in-port renovations and emergency dry-docks.
Two additional cutters will join those vessels in 2023, as long as the service can identify a few more Coast Guard-adjacent celebrities and continues to receive its $2,395 annual budget from Congress.
Slab Squatthrust is just a man, in a world, with a chip on his shoulder.