Coast Guard Cutter Waesche commences first Alaska patrol

The California-based crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche began their first Alaska patrol in late August.

“Our four-month patrol here in Alaska will do a variety of things, everything from up in the Arctic as well as living marine resources enforcement and search and rescue and again just being a presence in the Bering Sea,” said Capt. John McKinley, commanding officer, Coast Guard Cutter Waesche.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter waits to be refueled after a training flight in Kodiak, Alaska, Sept. 19, 2013. The Dolphins and the crews who fly them make up the air station's Alaska Patrol or ALPAT division and deploy with the service's larger cutters throughout the North Pacific Ocean. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Mooers.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter waits to be refueled after a training flight in Kodiak, Alaska, Sept. 19, 2013. The Dolphins and the crews who fly them make up the air station’s Alaska Patrol or ALPAT division and deploy with the service’s larger cutters throughout the North Pacific Ocean. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Mooers.

The patrol is part of the Coast Guard 17th District’s 2013 Operation Arctic Shield.

When not at sea the crew will conduct outreach. As the crew has the opportunity to get ashore in the local communities in Alaska, they will engage the local governance bodies there as well as the Alaska Native populations to build those relationships for the long term.

Some of the crew are previous Alaska sailors. The’ve been everywhere from Southeast Asia to the South Pacific to the northern regions of the West Coast.

“Again it just proves the capabilities of this class of ship and the Coast Guard’s reach as far as being a worldwide maritime service,” said McKinley.

The 418-foot Coast Guard Cutter Waesche is moored to the Coast Guard Base Kodiak fuel pier on a foggy morning in Kodiak, Alaska, Aug. 19, 2013. The Alameda, Calif., based cutter is the second of eight planned National Security Cutters and the crew is on their first patrol in Alaska, part of Operation Arctic Shield 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Mooers)

The 418-foot Coast Guard Cutter Waesche is moored to the Coast Guard Base Kodiak fuel pier on a foggy morning in Kodiak, Alaska, Aug. 19, 2013. The Alameda, Calif., based cutter is the second of eight planned National Security Cutters and the crew is on their first patrol in Alaska, part of Operation Arctic Shield 2013. .U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Mooers.

Waesche will operate in Alaska with an embarked MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Kodiak.

“Well they certainly expand our capabilities, our eyes and ears in the air,” said McKinley. “We’ll use them to extend our surveillance operations as far as being able to see out further than the cutter can itself with our organic sensors.”

Waesche is the second of three commissioned National Security Cutters, designed to operate in any theater of the world. They can embark two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters and have three small boats. With a crew of 109 to 143 depending on mission. Waesche has an endurance of 60 days at a time and is named for Russell Waesche, the Coast Guard commandant during World War II.

“The crew is just very excited to get back up here in Alaska waters, bring the Waesche here and show the capabilites of not just the ship but the uncredible crew we have,” said McKinley.

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