We know there are viable threats that can happen on U.S. soil, but what about those with a maritime nexus? The Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team West out of San Diego trains in tactical operations year round maintaining high levels of marksmanship, fast-roping and small boat maneuvering. Recently they traveled to the small town of Cordova, Alaska, to help the city and state of Alaska stay ready while also practicing their own missions in the unique environment that Alaska offers.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Canadian passenger steamer Princess Sophia. Princess Sophia had run aground in southeast Alaska and was unable to deploy its lifeboats, taking down with it at least 353 people. Today the Coast Guard conducts modern cruish ship exams placing emphasis on crew proficiency during emergencies to avoid another tragedy like the Princess Sophia.
Each year a collection of artwork is submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard Art Program where a panel of judges selects a recipient for the George Gray Award for Artistic Excellence – in other words, they choose a “best in show.” This year’s award goes to Leendert van der Pool for his oil painting titled “Partnership.”
The crews aboard buoy tenders like Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, homeported in Kodiak, Alaska, use both sledgehammers and hooks to work on buoys but with so many tools, wouldn’t it make sense to combine? That’s exactly what Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Spratt that earned him the 2017 Capt. Niels P. Thomsen Innovation Award after coming up with the hammer hook.
This year the Alaska National hosted 11 four-person teams and a few individual shooters for The Adjutant General Match, an annual marksmanship competition, held on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, Sept. 8-10, 2017. The Coast Guard brought a four-man team composed of members from Coast Guard Sector Anchorage.
Like many Coast Guard cutters before it, the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley has a storied history and decades of service behind it. The vessel might have 49 years of wear and tear to show for it but, just like a grumpy old bulldog, the crews who maintain it and come to understand its quirks know the cutter will remain loyal and true to the Coast Guard’s mission to save lives and protect U.S. shores.
The Canadian coast guard assisted the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Maple by breaking and helping navigate through ice during several days of Maple’s 2017 Northwest Passage transit. This is the 60th anniversary of the last transit by a Coast Guard cutter, and 150th anniversary of the Coast Guard’s presence in Alaska.
Ens. Gabriel Patterson of Coast Guard Cutter SPAR recently received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for embodying the Coast Guard’s core values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty. Patterson’s list of duties aboard SPAR are long and varied to include education services officer, morale officer and assistant security officer but he still makes time to contribute to the community as a volunteer firefighter with the Kodiak Island Fire Department.
Born Aug. 27, 1961, in Germany, he was given the birth name Holger Lorenz. Less than a year later, he was adopted by Charles and Doris McAndrews who then changed his name to Charles McAndrews, just like his adoptive father. Charles would follow his father’s footsteps into the U.S. military to serve his adopted country.
Built in 1902 by the U.S. Lighthouse Service, which became part of the Coast Guard in 1939, the Five Finger Islands Light once guided prospectors into southeast Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush and still welcomes mariners, tourists and scientists today.