Kodiak-based cutter crew earns high marks for weapons system management

CGC Alex Haley Weapons Division

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley observes as Chief Gunner’s Mate Nathan Miskill, from Coast Guard Force Readiness Command, presents the ship’s weapons division with the Coast Guard Minor Caliber Award for 2012 at a ceremony aboard the ship Oct. 2, 2013, in Kodiak, Alaska.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley is affectionately known as the Bulldog of the Bering. The crew’s primary missions include search and rescue, living marine resources, port, waterways and coastal security and other law enforcement activities. The Alex Haley is also known throughout the region for lifesaving rescues and the preservation of domestic fisheries.

The crew employs and maintains minor caliber weapons for use in these missions. These weapons are designed as deterrence and defense tools and for the protection of others. Minor caliber refers to the weapons systems on board that are smaller than 76 mm, not including small arms. On the Alex Haley this refers to the 25 mm and .50 caliber fixed guns.

The crew of the 282-foot medium endurance cutter maintains the minor caliber weapons so well they were recognized as best in the fleet.

The Minor Caliber Gunnery Award is presented on annually. Each crew is judged on a series of ordnance-related assessments and on their ordinance training, administration and maintenance program.

USCG Minor Caliber Award

Coast Guard Minor Caliber Award 2012 presented to Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley.

According to Ensign Michael Francis, weapons officer aboard Alex Haley, the work of the weapons division is a testament to the professionalism and dedication to craft of the crew. “It’s a morale boost for everyone, especially the weapons division. There’s military pride in having the best functioning weapons systems in the Coast Guard.”

A plaque bearing Alex Haley and the names of the units who preceded them resides in the halls of the weapons school at the Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown, Va. Their name also appears on the Gunnery Award Plaque at Coast Guard Force Readiness Command in Norfolk, Va. This is not the first time the Alex Haley has received the award since it’s inception in 1927 and it’s likely not to be the last.

The Alex Haley is a former Navy vessel that was recommissioned for Coast Guard duty on July 10, 1999. The cutter was named after author and journalist Alex Haley. While originally designed by the Navy for rescue and salvage, the changes made since the Coast Guard received the ship have ideally suited Alex Haley for its primary operations area of the Bering Sea and other Alaska waters. The original design resulted in a very stable ship that rides well in heavy seas.

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