>A day on the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley


0800 – We’re about as far north as we will go this week. If you are tracking us on a chart, or map, we are about 150 miles northwest of St. Paul Island…just about in the middle of the Bering Sea. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing as much activity up here as we thought we would. In fact, we haven’t seen a single vessel in the past 24 hours. We will offset our trackline slightly and head south and see if any new comers were following us north. Meanwhile, we will just follow our daily routine, which for the moment is Holiday routine. The cumulative effect of several consecutive long work days has caught up with us, so the best thing to do is take the morning off to partially recharge our batteries. The watches still go on though, every four hours a new watch team takes over on the bridge and engineroom, and meals still have to be made. Still, the short break from drills, boardings, and flight ops is welcome by all.

Note: Tracklines are pencil lines on a chart that the Navigator puts down for the ship to follow. These lines are put down in such a way as to keep us clear of shallow water, and provides the Officer of the Deck with a safe path to steer the ship on.

1000 – SMARTER IN ALASKA! In a couple of weeks we will be talking about the Red King Crab season that will be opening and how the Deadliest Catch boats are doing, and also talking about how things are Harder in Alaska. Aboard Alex Haley we are ready for the crabbers and tougher times as winter rolls in. This is what we do, in any weather, at anytime. But we are also looking after ourselves too. Being on this crew isn’t just about the ship.

Intermixed with all of our Coast Guard duties we are making time to run Alex Haley University. We have partnered with the University of Alaska to run undergrad courses aboard ship using crew members that hold master’s degrees as course professors. Currently, LT Tyson Scofield, our Engineer Officer, is teaching Intermediate Algebra to eleven students. Our long term goal is to provide undergrad students with one core class (English, math, history, science) during each patrol. The students will receive full credit for the classes they take just as if they were sitting in the university classroom. We have also partnered with the National Graduate School in Falmouth, Mass to teach a Master’s in Quality Performance Management aboard ship. These six students attend classes while at-sea and in port, and will actually complete their master’s degree this coming June.

1300 – Resume normal ship’s routine. Scheduled drills include man overboard with facial injury for the bridge and deck crew, and then basic engineering casualty drills for the engineers.

1800 – Flight Ops begin. We’re sending the helo out ahead of us to see who’s out there.

2000 – The helicopter is back on deck. They found one boat but unfortunately it had been recently boarded by another Coast Guard ship a couple of months ago. No need for us to go aboard.

2100 – The helo is in the hangar and secured for sea. The decks are also secure (boats are griped down, nothing else is loose or hanging over the side) and we assume a nighttime patrol watch.

* Today’s photo is of Alex Haley and her small boat near St. George Island in the Pribilof Islands, Bering Sea. The picture was taken by a boarding team member that was aboard a fishing vessel we were boarding. In the coming days we will start talking about the different types of fishing boats we encounter out here…stay tuned.

Note: We delay posting our journal entries until a few days after we are clear of an operating area so not to give away our current position.

Commander Jones