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 1st Class Jeffrey Ventura, operations specialist.

Hafa Adai. While underway on the Bertholf I have very little spare time for myself due to the operations. With what time I have to myself you could find me working out in the gym or sleeping in my rack.

OS1 Jeffrey Ventura

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Ventura is an operational specialist aboard the cutter Bertholf and is an integral part of the cutter's law enforcement capability. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charly Hengen.

This is my and the Bertholf’s first Alaska Patrol, also known as ALPAT. I have been on every patrol that the ship has been on. Alaska is a beautiful place and is one of the last frontiers left in the world. I attended District 17’s fish school at the North Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center in Kodiak to prepare for this patrol. I learned that Alaskan waters supply almost 60 percent of fish to the United States and 30 percent to the world. That is why we are out here. We enforce the law and make sure that one of our last fish stocks does not get depleted. That’s where my specialty comes into play.

In my rate, our job is to know where the fishing fleet is headed and what fishing boats need to be boarded by our boarding teams. We know where fishing boats are located by technical means and we as OSs evaluate the information, weather forecasts, D17 targeting goals and make recommendations to the command.

From my recommendations the ship steers a new course and speed to set us up for a first light boarding on fishing vessels of interest. From my past experiences on other patrols, this is a much slower environment. We are not out here chasing drug runners down in South America. We are out here to ensure checks and balances. I am enjoying this ALPAT a lot because of where we are and I get to see the Alaska wildlife. Not everyone from my hometown could say that they been to Alaska and seen what I have seen. I also like that fact that when we do boardings, it takes a couple of hours and we are off again to find other boardings of opportunity.

CGC Bertholf boarding team approaches the fishing vessel Ballyhoo

A Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf boarding team approaches the 177-foot fishing vessel Ballyhoo while on a Bering Sea patrol May 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charly Hengen.

The boardings in my past experiences used to take several hours. I enjoy being out here and seeing first hand how these fishing vessels operate. When they do haul up a catch, most of the time their nets are full. I am a fisherman myself and I understand where these guys come from. They are out here to provide for their families. I spoke to a couple of fishermen in Dutch Harbor and they are happy that the Coast Guard is out here. They just want to make sure that all fishing vessels adhere to the same laws. We as the Coast Guard are out here doing our best to make sure that happens.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Ventura has been in the Coast Guard for seven years. He has been aboard Bertholf for three years now. His hometown is Guam and he has been married for six and a half wonderful years to his wife Naomi. His 4-year-old son Caleb is his pride and joy.

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