From the deck plate of the Bertholf: Alaska Patrol

As one of the Coast Guard’s newest assets, the national security cutters bring operational capabilities the fleet needs for mission success. The enlisted crew of the service’s first NSC continue to share their unique perspective on how the fleet’s newest class of cutters will perform in the world’s most challenging operating environments from the deck plate of the Bertholf. You can also check with Coast Guard Compass for the view from the wardroom, focusing on the capabilities of the Bertholf and the crew’s adaptability that make their missions a success.

Written by Petty Officer 3nd Osvaldo Ocampo, an electrician’s mate aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Osvaldo Ocampo, an electrician's mate aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Osvaldo Ocampo, an electrician's mate aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf.

What can I say about Bertholf’s first ever Alaska Patrol? Well if you ask the rest of the crew most thought it would unbearable. I don’t know if that’s because most of us have never been to Alaska or let alone the Bering Sea, maybe it was because none had ever been to Alaska on a national security cutter. I don’t think it is too bad. I am originally from Chicago so the cold weather was like a little reminder of what I left back home almost two years ago when I enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Being underway sometimes feels like you are in a time capsule; you leave home port and then, however long you have been underway, later you emerge somewhere else. It is pretty amazing to see the view transform as you are going out to the fantail where you use to see other cutters and a pier you now would see snow capped mountains and fishing boats. As a crew we have had to become very adaptable not only to the weather but the effect the weather has on our missions.

If it becomes too dangerous we can’t launch our small boats and helicopter so our schedule isn’t what you would call routine at times. For example one minute I am on machinery watch and then they pipe flight quarters and I am now a part of the fire team. I have to shift gears and dress out in flash gear which is fire retardant clothing.

For the first ALPAT I think Bertholf has done very well. As whole the machinery has ran smoothly and we have had only a few minor casualties. Our JIATF south patrol was more spontaneous compared to the ALPAT in both missions and casualties. For example we lost our air conditioning system for a while and when we got that back up and running a generator would trip offline or our turbine would not clutch in. Our JIATF south missions were unpredictable we didn’t always know how many vessels we were going to board or how many we would come across, but here in Alaskan waters we have a more planned approach; we know how many vessels we want to board weather permitting.

This patrol I hope to graduate Boarding Officer School and join the rest of the boarding teams when they go out and enforce fisheries laws. I currently serve as a Boarding Team Member who is an assistant to the Boarding Officer who is in charge. I think it will be a great experience to got out there and actually see first hand how these fisherman make a living and how we help regulate the fishing industry so as not to completely fish out our waters or let just one person make all the money. With a large portion of the U.S. seafood supply coming from Alaska I think we have an important role when we are out here doing our job as the fisherman are doing theirs.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Osvaldo Ocampo’s job consists of ensuring that the ship’s electrical systems work properly, be it testing a flooding alarm or replacing a bulb in a broken jack staff light. He has been aboard the ship for a year.

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