Unit Spotlight: Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak

MSD Kodiak personnel move between two containers at the Horizon Lines Terminal in Kodiak during a container inspection.

MSD Kodiak personnel move between two containers at the Horizon Lines Terminal in Kodiak during a container inspection.

Marine Safety Detachment (MSD) Kodiak is located on the island of Kodiak, near St. Paul Harbor. The crew is responsible for commercial fishing vessel examinations, marine casualty investigations, pollution response, waterfront facility inspections, regulatory oversight and enforcement of federal vessels, facility and environmental regulations, Port State Control Exams, a dockside safety program for one of the largest fishing ports in the United States, as well as reinforcing safety regulations for approximately 700 fishing vessels homeported in Kodiak.

MSD Kodiak has an area of responsibility that covers all of Kodiak Island, as well as Cape Douglas and King Cove. Some ports are only assessable by air or sea. Crewmembers often fly to the remote villages of Afognak, Port Lions, Old Harbor, Ouzinkie, Port Bailey, Larsen Bay, Karluk and Chignik. Traveling to these villages requires close coordination between MSD Kodiak, the fishing industry and Sector Anchorage. All three have to work closely together to schedule inspections that require planning modes of travel for the MSD personnel; plans that can easily be hindered by the extreme weather that frequents the Gulf of Alaska.

“We have a wide range of missions that we complete on any given day and each member needs to be proficient in or training toward each one of those missions,” said Lt. Rich Cherkauer, MSD Kodiak unit supervisor. “One of the most unique aspects of working at MSD Kodiak is the travel required for our job. We often fly in small floatplanes to remote locations to conduct facility exams, port state control exams and commercial fishing vessel exams.”

It is responsible for regulatory oversight and enforcement of federal vessel, facility and environmental regulations.

It is responsible for regulatory oversight and enforcement of federal vessel, facility and environmental regulations.

Six personnel currently staff the unit:

Lt. Rich Cherkauer – Unit supervisor who oversees the overall missions and personnel at MSD Kodiak.

Chief Petty Officer Jerry Meadows – Assistant supervisor and mentor to the enlisted members, who also manages all pollution reports and responses conducted by the unit.

Petty Officer 1st Class Dan Jarrett – Lead petty officer and unit lead commercial fishing vessel examiner who is responsible for conducting pollution response, facility inspections training, as well as mentor the new members and assist with marine casualty investigations.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Abraham Medrano – Unit petty officer who leads the unit’s Port State Control Exams and is a qualified foreign freight vessel examiner. He also conducts commercial fishing vessel exams, pollution response and facility inspections.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Dan Purse – Unit petty officer who is responsible for pollution response and is currently in training to conduct commercial fishing vessel examinations and facility inspections. He recently assisted Sector Anchorage’s federal on scene coordinator with response to the fishing vessel Elizabeth Taylor grounding.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Miller – The newest member of MSD Kodiak and recent graduate of the Coast Guard’s Marine Science Technician School. She recently qualified as a pollution responder and is working on her commercial fishing vessel examiner qualification.

The crew of MSD Kodiak recently responded to the fishing vessel Elizabeth Taylor after it broke free of its anchor in Women’s Bay and ran aground. Members of MSD Kodiak worked with the Sector Anchorage federal onscene coordinators, the Kodiak Harbor Master office, various state officials and multiple contractors to ensure the protection of the environment. It was determined that the best course of action would be to tow the vessel to its slip in Dog Bay and then remove any pollution threat. The quick action of MSD Kodiak, as well as all parties involved, prevented a possible sinking and extensive hull damage to the Elizabeth Taylor.

“The five days we spent working on the fishing vessel Elizabeth Taylor required a full team effort by all members of MSD Kodiak,” said Cherkauer. “Each member stepped up and filled a role and put in extra hours without hesitation to ensure that the response and daily operations were completed.”

Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak is a seven

Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak is a seven
person detachment on the second largest island
in the United States.

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