Alaska Coast Guard unit maintains professional excellence and a gateway to the future

The Homer-based Coast Guard Cutter Roanoke Island undergoes needed maintenance at the Coast Guard Base Ketchikan, Alaska, dry dock Sept. 24, 2012. The dry dock at the base is the only Coast Guard owned facility on the west coast dedicated to the maintenance of the 110-foot Island Class patrol boat. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley.

In Alaska’s Gateway Borough is the city of Ketchikan.  Ketchikan is a city with a population of more than 8,000 people with an economy based on fishing and tourism.  During the busy tourist summer season, it is not uncommon for six or more cruise ships to visit the community on any given day. To help keep things safe, the local Coast Guard base is getting a new patrol boat coming all the way from Miami.

Standing watch over this bustling community and the entire southern end of Alaska’s panhandle is Coast Guard Base Ketchikan and the units located there.  The base provides direct support and is home to Coast Guard Station Ketchikan, the Coast Guard Cutter Anthony Petit and the Coast Guard Cutter Naushon. The base will also be the future home of the Coast Guard Cutter Chandeleur.

“We are looking forward to having the cutter here,” said Cmdr. T. Wade Gesele, commander, Base Ketchikan.  “Having the two patrol boats gives us a glimpse of the future with the arrival of the Fast Response Cutters planned for 2016-2017.”

“The town is excited,” said Gesele. “I hear from the mayor every couple of weeks asking when his new 110 is going to arrive.  With the close to home missions of the patrol boat, the local community should see a direct benefit from having the new cutter here.”

The base is no stranger to having patrol boats and other cutters visit Ketchikan.  The base is located at the Alaska gateway.  It is not uncommon for a cutter crew to stop there to get fuel, provisions or to just take a break and experience Alaska.  The base is also home to the only Coast Guard owned dry dock facility dedicated to maintaining the 110-foot patrol boat fleet.

“As a base this (supporting the 110’s) is our job,” said Gesele. “What it (our facility) benefits is the operational commander who is able to send his boats to us, knowing the work is going to be done on-time, to the best of our ability and to get those assets back a lot quicker than sending them down south.”

The Commandant of the Coast Guard talks about being proficient in your craft, and Gasele states they have the best proficiency in-your-craft experts with the civilians who work in Ketchikan on the patrol boats.  He continued by saying he is constantly told the 110’s in Alaska are the best maintained patrol boats in the Coast Guard.

As the service updates the patrol boat fleet from the 110-foot Island Class platform to the Fast Response Cutters, the base is looking to adapt and upgrade with it.  It will continue to provide expertise in maintaining Coast Guard assets and subsequently the vital missions these assets allow their crews to perform.

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