High and Dry: Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa undergoes maintenance period

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Chief Warrant Officer Art Hebert, the port engineer for Coast Guard 13th and 17th District 110-foot cutters, runs his hand along the leading edge of the Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa’s propeller during an initial check for defects at the Coast Guard dry dock in Ketchikan, Alaska, Oct. 31, 2012. A dry dock gives maintenance crews the ability to inspect, clean and repair parts of a cutter that rarely see the light of day. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Thomas.

Normally, when a vessel finds its way out of the water and onto land, it is not a good thing.

However, from time to time purposefully lifting a boat out of the water to take a look at the otherwise inaccessible hull and fittings is important.

For the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa, a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Petersburg, Alaska, their dry dock period in Ketchikan from November 2012 to February 2013, set them up for smooth sailing and improved crew capability.

“Taking the cutter into a dry dock is a triennial requirement,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan Watson, an electrician’s mate and the assistant engineering petty officer of the Anacapa. “The time out of the water includes an inspection of the paint and maintenance of certain systems: rudders, propellers and any through-hull system.”

For 15 weeks the Anacapa sat high and dry in Ketchikan as a group of Coast Guard dry dock employees worked with the crew to fine-tune the cutter. Parts of the ship that had been submerged since the last tri-annual dry dock finally got the care they needed. But the area below the waterline didn’t get all the attention.

“Other projects are added to the package,” said Watson. “You’re going to be sitting up on blocks for a couple months and you’ve got all the expertise of the dry dock workers available.”

With the help of the dry dock workers, the crew painted the hull, refurbished their dining area, known as a messdeck, took apart and performed preventative maintenance on various pumps used to maintain the cutter’s services and cleaned the cutter’s water, fuel and sewage tanks.

As the metamorphosis of the Anacapa began, the crewmembers started polishing up their skills. The dry dock status presented a perfect opportunity for personnel training, and for those that needed it, some hard-earned vacation.

“Giving our crew time to train and recharge is just as important as physically maintaining the cutter,” said Lt. j.g. Rick Mozolic, executive officer of the Anacapa. “When we left the dry dock, everyone was ready to go and many had picked up new skills during the downtime.”

Along with meeting the needs of the cutter and its personnel, the Anacapa crew also took care of the Petersburg maritime community. While the cutter may have been out of the game for a couple months, its rigid-hulled inflatable boat was as fully capable as ever.

During the dry dock period, 11 Anacapa crewmembers, in shifts of three, manned a radio and the cutter’s 17-foot smallboat to respond to local distress calls. This allowed the Anacapa crew to maintain operations with the cutter on land.

“Because the cutter was temporarily out of service, there was a need to be met in Petersburg, and we had the means to provide,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ruben Boudreaux, the Anacapa‚Äôs commanding officer. “Our smallboat crewmen train frequently to carry out Coast Guard missions, so they were ready and willing to help where they could.”

After slipping the cutter safely back into the water Feb. 4 the crew of the Anacapa resumed their search and rescue, law enforcement and homeland security patrols in the waters of Southeast Alaska.

To see a time-lapse video of the Anacapa being lifted out of the water, click here.

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