Coast Guard Cutter SPAR back in action in Alaska

By Ensign Keith Arnold

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter SPAR was underway for the first time in almost three months after a long dockside period at the end of October. During the first day underway, members of the crew participated in a shakedown to reintroduce underway protocols and to test the ship’s machinery. Many in port qualifications were received by the crew and it was again time to work on underway skills. While many of the crew members only needed to refresh their familiarity with underway life, there were a few crewmembers who earned their sea pay for the first time.

Children from Ouzinkie tour the SPAR

Children from Ouzinkie tour the SPAR

New members of the crew were not the only people learning about boat life. SPAR’s crew kicked off their underway time by stopping in Ouzinkie to give tours to the local students and teach them about the many technical fields that correlate to the civilian world. The kids of Ouzinkie met SPAR at the pier and it was evident they were in high Halloween spirits as they waited in their Halloween costumes which later earned them candy from the crew. While aboard, crewmembers explained their jobs on the ship to the students and what it was like to live in such tight quarters with so many people. The crew’s efforts were focused on educating the children about various technical fields to aid in their decisions about their future in their communities. As quickly as SPAR arrived, it was time to leave.

Coast Guard recovers fouled buoy chain while working ATON

Coast Guard recovers fouled buoy chain while working ATON

Many evolutions were successfully and safely completed during the underway trip, but one was drastically different. Over the course of an 8 hour period and under the safety supervision of Chief Warrant Officer Travis Laster, a boatswain aboard SPAR, the deck force recovered a 9-foot buoy that was wrapped with chain from the mooring of a buoy that became adrift 7 years ago. Under the direction of Chief Adam Baldwin, a boatswain’s mate aboard SPAR, non-traditional methods were used on the buoy deck to safely recover the knotted chain and both sinkers weighing over 40,000 pounds. The entire crew worked tirelessly to stay on station and get the work done for the duration of the long recovery. Lt. Cmdr. Michele Schallip, the seasoned commanding officer, even noted that she had never seen such a fouled mooring and stressed the importance of good record keeping and sincere efforts to recover lost moorings.

As SPAR’s crew continued servicing local aids, the weather was nothing to underestimate. Winds in excess of 25 mph and persistent currents were encountered daily and battled by the crew. Throughout all the challenges and long days, SPAR’s crew enjoyed once again working local ATON to ensure Kodiak waterways are safe for mariner navigation.

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