>Dock crashing with the Acushnet-

>Dutch Harbor

Mooring Practice, making approaches on the dock…. or more euphemistically called “Dock Crashing”! It is the art of bringing a 1,600 ton ship alongside a pier and stopping it perfectly where and when you want it to.

How difficult is it? Well, try this… take a piano slide it across the ice and try to park it perfectly in a spot no bigger than what the piano is. While that is a little simplistic, the basics are the same. How do you drive a ship with that much mass and park it exactly where you want to?

Practice, practice, practice… That is what we did today.

The weather in the Bering Seas was still a little rough today, 18 foot seas and 35 knot winds, which makes boardings very difficult to do safely. Instead we were able to make arrangements to use the pier in Dutch Harbor for mooring practice.

The pier in Dutch Harbor is a sturdy concrete pier which has a nice fendering (bumpers) system. The pier is 500 feet long which is twice our size making it a perfect place to let people learn the intricacies of ship-handling and gain some confidence in driving the ship. Out in the open ocean, it is hard to get the perspective of what the ship is doing because of the vast openness surrounding you. There isn’t anything out there to use as a reference point or gauge what the ship is doing. It doesn’t matter if you take 50 yards to turn or 500 yards… you can still come around and head in the opposite direction. In a confined area, like a port, the difference between 50 yards and 500 yards can make the difference between a collision, grounding, or ending up somewhere completely different than you wanted to.

Since most of the new Ensigns had several opportunities to make approaches previously in the patrol, we concentrated on our senior enlisted people who were starting to break in OODs. Specifically, we had BM2 Phil Ketcheson, BM1 Scott Jablonski, BM1 Shaun Stone, BMC Kevin Jackson and BMC Tony Kirven drive. Each one made a different approach, using a different style. They all did a fantastic job mooring the ship and each evolution was done safely despite the fact that we had a 25-30 along the dock winds.

So in closing…. Fantastic approaches…. No dock crashing! Now we are off to look for boarding opportunities. See you later.

From CDR Andy Sugimoto, Coast Guard Cutter ACUSHNET (WMEC 167) Commanding Officer