>Some Springtime News from Sector Juneau!

>It must be Springtime!

I hope this finds all of you well and excited about the busy summer season! Before turning to upcoming OPs, let’s take a few moments to publicly recognize your many achievements this winter – at least electronically, since it’s hard to get us all in one place.

Since January, ANACAPA returned – what a huge addition to the Sector! Putting the cutter into operation after an extensive yard period, training the crew, and planning the lengthy voyage through the Panama Canal were no small tasks, but you came through with flying colors. We are glad you are home. Well done, ANACAPA!

ELDERBERRY also underwent a significant drydock with a LOT of bottom plate work, buying us a little more time on the aging hull. We look forward to more hull replacement next year, so that you will one day be Queen of the Fleet, but we are glad to have you in service for the summer ATON season. You even maintained aids while in drydock, which is very important to the mariners. Good job!

While ELDERBERRY was in Ketchikan, NAUSHON also completed a major availability period and several important projects. BZ!

Another major operation we’re doing right now is removing bunker oil from the sunken C/S PRINCESS KATHLEEN. The shipwreck has been slowly leaking fuel for nearly 60 years and appeared to have been worsening recently. Since February, our Coast Guard and Alaska State teams have evaluated the wreck with the help of Global Diving and Salvage, SEAPRO, SEAL, ADEC, NPFC, NOAA, the Strike Team, and experts from Juneau and beyond. We determined we could safely recover oil from the vessel and are well on our way through a very complex operation. We’ve also had the benefit of extensive Auxiliary support in the command and soon on water. Everyone in the Unified Command is doing a superb job keeping the mission on track and safe. Keep up the great work!

Spring has our inspectors bringing vessels and shoreside facilities back to life. MSD Ketchikan helped launch an interesting new hull that will be a test platform for the Navy and then serve as a ferry up near Anchorage…the SUSITNA. Ketchikan was also busy through the winter working several complicated drydocks on the state ferries, and on a very unique fishing vessel known as an ACSA boat. ACSA boats require particularly meticulous inspections, because exceptional judgment is needed to decide whether they meet alternative compliance standards.

Juneau Prevention folks are working with the state to ramp up the processes for managing waste water on cruise ships, as they do annually. We also proactively meet the cruise ships as they arrive here to go over all requirements and answer questions, something we consistently receive high marks on from industry. Similarly, the road and mining industries are gearing up, as evidenced by a large number of explosive load shipments ongoing throughout the last few months…if you’re going to move rock in SEAK, you’ll have to ship explosives here to do it, and that has to clear the approval of our facilities division. No rest for the weary!

On the maintenance side of the house, our field engineers and Sector Engineering Division have stayed busy with all of the projects just mentioned. The ANT worked hard to quickly take care repair the 41, helping get AIRSTA Sitka helos flying for training again as quickly as possible. The Sector engineers are coming on-line with field services for gauge calibration, etc., and are getting closer to having a new home in the NOAA building next door to Station Juneau. The engineers and SKs all did a SUPERB job getting our inventory up from Ketch this winter, and you completed our first successful inventory updates. Way to go!

On the people side we’ve seen impressive results as well. Station Juneau hosted a 100 ton course for folks to get merchant marine licenses…a dozen of you graduated and will be able to put these skills to use in and beyond the Coast Guard. Two of you have gone even beyond that to take the 200 ton course. Station Ketch enrolled three members in a college program similar to what Station Juneau started a few years ago. We’ve also had a number of Chiefs attend the CPO Academy this winter/spring, and a few enlisted members attended the Air Force Leadership programs in Anchorage…great opportunities to learn and grow. Good luck also to those of you undergoing the CCTI in Juneau currently, and the time honored traditions that go with that…. A number of you have been advanced, or selected for advancement, are preparing to PCS, have had children, and any other number of fantastic, life changing events. Congratulations! I hope to touch on these more personally as I visit with you and your units throughout the year.

We’ve continued promoting outreach with some great results. LIBERTY celebrated her twenty year anniversary over the winter and attracted a big crowd – including prior LIBERTY sailors. We also had a great opportunity to thank our partners in Juneau during the Safety Expo with our first annual SARBQ! LT Hayes – excellent job organizing that! Next year, we hope to expand the Expo to make it SEAKwide and we’ll even go beyond the sheetcake.

We’ve made a few extra trips to tribal areas these past few months and are working toward expanding our relationships with these important stakeholders, whose land and waterways we share and protect. We hope that over time, we can strengthen our ties, conduct joint training and operations, and improve overall safety and mutual respect throughout the AOR. Thanks to the Auxiliary, who will be kick starting our efforts in Angoon, with a training trip this summer.

We are also looking at the younger crowd in our native outreach. Two of our folks spent time with the kids in Yakutat for Career Day, following area facility inspections. MST3 Curley, super job initiating that! I know you were extremely entertaining and inspiring to the teenagers. And just last week, I was very pleased to accept an invitation for the Coast Guard to participate in a new Law Enforcement Cadet program at Mt. Edgecumbe High in Sitka – a boarding school for rural Alaskans from over 100 villages. Thanks to MST1 Houston for volunteering to be the Liaison. I’m looking forward to developing a kids program we can use in remote communities throughout SEAK.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the variety and sheer volume of things you are accomplishing. I know it isn’t easy – you are keeping up on many requirements to ensure we maintain mission excellence, and you are consistently finding ways to be better -qualifying a whole new group of watchstanders and controllers; meeting quarterly financial close-outs and carefully monitoring our budget; conducting gun shoots to maintain quals AOR wide on weapon systems small and large. And how great is it that we have a Leadership Council who plans some very novel interactive training, and a Morale Committee who doesn’t let a week go by without a new idea? You’ve probably all now heard about EM1 Greene’s work in Sitka to help the Haitian earthquake victims; LIBERTY’s efforts to reduce carbon footprint with more energy efficient operations; Petersburg’s plans to work with the local arts council to improve the CG footprint there; polar bear swims for charity; AMSC, PSC, and exercise planning to enhance our security, partnerships, and ability to respond in an emergency; our Senior Reserve Officer publishing the Reserve Newsletter for all of D17; and even an almost published, soon-to-be final Sector Orgman (way to go, Deputy and Logistics on that ginormous endeavor!)

Your collective efforts, work, stamina, professionalism, dedication … all of it was recognized last month when the Coast Guard Foundation announced Sector Juneau had won the 2010 Pacific Area award for excellence. Each of our outlying units will receive a plaque commemorating this honor, which is simply recognition of all that you do individually and together, each and every day, to build a great command. I am so grateful to be a part of such an amazing team! I hope each of you share my pride and realize your unique and critical role in our delivery of outstanding service to the public, keeping people safe and secure, and our waterways pristine.

Give yourselves a pat on the back, give our shipmates heading off to new climes a big bear hug, and welcome our new friends reporting in as we speak. Let’s have a fantastic and safe summer in SEAK! Seeya around the AOR!

CAPT Melissa Bert
Coast Guard Sector Juneau