Final voyage from the Last Frontier; Coast Guard Cutter Long Island departs Alaska after 23 years of Coast Guard service

KODIAK, Alaska - The crew of the 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Long Island pilots the patrol boat into homeport in Valdez following a 45 day deployment north of the San Juan Islands in support of security for the 2010 Vancouver, B.C., Olympics March 11, 2010. The crew transited more than 2,500 miles for the mission and this was the first time since the cutter's 2003 stationing in Valdez that it has left Alaska.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Erin Christensen.

KODIAK, Alaska – The crew of the 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Long Island pilots the patrol boat into homeport in Valdez following a 45 day deployment north of the San Juan Islands in support of security for the 2010 Vancouver, B.C., Olympics March 11, 2010. The crew transited more than 2,500 miles for the mission and this was the first time since the cutter’s 2003 stationing in Valdez that it has left Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Erin Christensen.

It was a comfortable 48 degrees in Valdez, Alaska, the day the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Long Island departed from their home pier as calm seas and light showers welcomed them into Prince William Sound one last time.

After 23 years of service in the Coast Guard, the Long Island was setting out on its final voyage, a journey from its homeport of the last 12 years to the Coast Guard’s shipyard in Baltimore, Md.

In stark contrast to chilly, snowbound Valdez, the 110-foot Island Class Cutter, Long Island, was commissioned 4,300 miles away on a humid, June day in New Orleans, La. Traveling south and through the Panama Canal, the vessel’s inaugural crew brought the Long Island to its first homeport of Monterey, Calif., where the cutter proved its mettle when it traveled more than 750 miles from the coast of California to assist the crew of the disabled sailing vessel Dauntless. Taking the Dauntless in tow, the Long Island’s crew rescued its four-person crew, brought the sailing vessel back to California and kicked off an impressive record of service to the American people.

Coast Guard Lt. Kalen Kenny, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Long Island, addresses attendees to a ceremony marking the cutter's final departure from Valdez, Alaska, April 29, 2015. The Long Island will be officially decommissioned in Baltimore, after serving in Alaska since 2003. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert)

Coast Guard Lt. Kalen Kenny, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Long Island, addresses attendees to a ceremony marking the cutter’s final departure from Valdez, Alaska, April 29, 2015. The Long Island will be officially decommissioned in Baltimore, after serving in Alaska since 2003. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert)

“The Cutter Long Island is not just one of the best maintained 110s in the fleet, it’s one of the best maintained cutters in the entire Coast Guard,” said Lt. Kalen Kenny, commanding officer of the Long Island, during a departure ceremony for the cutter in Valdez April 29. “That’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of not only my crew but the crews who came before us.”

During its service, the Long Island logged 45,000 hours underway, and its crews performed approximately 3,000 boardings and 250 search and rescue cases. The vessel’s crews played huge roles in migrant interdiction operations while in California and the reputation of the cutter and its brave crews only continued to grow when it was transferred to Valdez in 2003.

After adopting the title of “The Northernmost Cutter in the Coast Guard,” the Long Island and its crew went on to garner additional acclaim in The Last Frontier. In 2010, the crew of the Long Island provided security for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., and, in 2011, the cutter performed rescues aboard two vessels, the Bella Vida and the Naughty Flier, within hours of one another.

More recently, the Long Island’s crew made news for the dramatic 2013 rescue of a crew aboard the disabled vessel Mystery Lady near Seward, Alaska, but the people of Valdez might remember them most fondly for their assistance during the 2012 “Snowpocalypse.” During the intense winter, Long Island crewmembers joined fellow Coast Guardsmen in their efforts to shovel through mountains of snow to uncover the homes of their neighbors.

“The Long Island’s sustained service over the last 23 years is testimony to the closeness of the crew to their cutter,” said Capt. Paul Mehler III, commander, Sector Anchorage . “Each and every sailor who has served aboard the Long Island should take pride in what they accomplished and the accomplishments of the crews who came after and before them.”

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Elliot strikes a ship's bell held by Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Sliker during a farewell ceremony for the Coast Guard Cutter Long Island in Valdez, Alaska, April 29, 2015. The tolling of the bell signified the end of the cutter's service to the Coast Guard. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert)

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Elliot strikes a ship’s bell held by Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Sliker during a farewell ceremony for the Coast Guard Cutter Long Island in Valdez, Alaska, April 29, 2015. The tolling of the bell signified the end of the cutter’s service to the Coast Guard. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert)

The CGC Long Island will officially be decommissioned upon reaching Baltimore, but the people of Valdez won’t have to wait long for its replacement. The current crew of the Long Island will return this summer with Alaska’s new Northernmost Cutter, the CGC Farallon, a worthy successor, which comes to Alaska from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Until then, the crews of the 17th District’s other cutters will stand the watch as they salute the outstanding service of the Coast Guard Cutter Long Island and wish it fair winds and following seas.

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