>Port Call!

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The photo is of BM3 Madera hiking in Dutch Harbor, AK
We just spent the last couple of days in Dutch Harbor for some rest and relaxation. Dutch Harbor is a small fishing down on Unalaska Island in the Aleutian Island Chain. Dutch, was an important re-supply base for the US Forces in WWII, there are still abandoned pillboxes, bunkers and tunnels all over the island. It has a short runway, so we can conduct necessary personnel transfers.

The first day is always spent in a flurry of activity. We hook up shore ties, which include electricity, water, sewage, phones, internet and cable tv. What is nice about that is that the ship gets a little quieter as all of the engines and generators are taken off – line. The engineers immediately scramble to do whatever preventative maintenance is necessary on our prime movers. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew is removing trash, on-loading supplies, mail and food. We fill up out water tanks and we take on fuel as well. The idea is that the first priority for the crew is to get the ship turned around ready to go – in case we are called out for an urgent Search and Rescue case. Once the ship is taken care of, cleanups are done – most of which were done the night before by the eager crew – and then LIBERTY, LIBERTY, LIBERTY!

It is free time for the crew unless you stand duty. Inport duty means that you stay onboard and ensure that the ship is safe. Everyone is assigned specific tasks to do in case there is an emergency such as fire or flooding. We cannot call on the fire department or anyone else to help us – so we must be ready to respond at any time ourselves. About 1/3 of the crew stands duty at any given time. For the rest of the crew, they don “civies” – put on regular clothes for the first time in a couple of weeks, and head out into town.

For a lot of us, it is the priceless chance to communicate with our families over the phone and hear their voices. Others are off exploring the rough terrain or go souvenir shopping. We have to stay in touch with the ship though as we still can be recalled for Search and Rescue anytime of the day or night.

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

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