Coast Guard Cutter SPAR forges bonds of goodwill during visit with Port Lions, Alaska, community

Submitted by Coast Guard Cutter SPAR

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR give Kids Don't Float training to children in Port Lions, Alaska, Feb. 18, 2016.  The KDF program provides water safety education to children throughout Alaska.  USCG photo.

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR give Kids Don’t Float training to children in Port Lions, Alaska, Feb. 18, 2016. The KDF program provides water safety education to children throughout Alaska. USCG photo.

While servicing aids to navigation and conducting maritime law enforcement operations in Marmot Bay near Kodiak, Alaska, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR paid a visit to the native village of Port Lions, AK. This is believed to be the first visit by a Coast Guard cutter to the village since its establishment after the Good Friday earthquake of 1964.

Despite a cold and rainy morning, the crew of the SPAR received an exceptionally warm welcome upon mooring at the newly constructed Alaska Marine Highway ferry terminal in Port Wakefield. The Port Lions’ Tribal council and community leaders transported 25 members of the SPAR’s crew to the village’s Tribal Center where they provided an outstanding meal along with a presentation on the town’s history, documenting it back to the community’s establishment at its current location when their original village of Afognak was destroyed by the tsunami following the 1964 earthquake. Lt. Cmdr. Doug Jannusch, commanding officer of the SPAR, dined with the Tribal President, Ms. Liz Pennington, her vice president and the tribal administrator where they discussed the community’s history, local affairs, community concerns and life in the Coast Guard and its longstanding relationship with the village.

Lt. Cmdr. Doug Jannusch, commanding officer USCGC SPAR, stands with Liz Pennington, Port Lions tribal president, during a visit to Port Lions, Alaska, Feb. 18, 2016.  The crew of the SPAR were paid a visit to Port Lions while servicing aids to navigation and conducting maritime law enforcement operations in Marmot Bay near Kodiak.  USCG Photo.

Lt. Cmdr. Doug Jannusch, commanding officer USCGC SPAR, stands with Liz Pennington, Port Lions tribal president, during a visit to Port Lions, Alaska, Feb. 18, 2016. The crew of the SPAR were paid a visit to Port Lions while servicing aids to navigation and conducting maritime law enforcement operations in Marmot Bay near Kodiak. USCG Photo.

Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak has been delivering donated gifts to the village for more than 30 years as part of the “Santa to the Villages” program. In commemoration of the occasion, Jannusch presented President Pennington a SPAR plaque and command coins as a gesture of gratitude for the communities’ hospitality.

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR enjoy a presentation by members of the Port Lions community during a visit Feb. 18, 2016.  The crew ate with members of the community and learned the history of the town during their visit.  USCG Photo.

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR enjoy a presentation by members of the Port Lions community during a visit Feb. 18, 2016. The crew ate with members of the community and learned the history of the town during their visit. USCG Photo.

After the meal it was SPAR’s turn to play host as the Port Lions’ community was invited to visit the cutter for tours. More than 45 visitors were welcomed aboard including the local school’s entire student body of 19 students. The tours include a Kids Don’t Float (KDF) presentation for the children, which highlighted the importance of water safety and the proper use of personal flotation devices. The three key points of the KDF program are discussing the three stages of cold water immersion, the proper choosing and use of life jackets, and Alaska law requiring any person under age 13 to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while on the deck of a vessel or in an open boat.

This successful visit by the SPAR resulted in a memorable day for the Port Lions’ community as well as the cutter’s crew and laid the groundwork for future visits and community service activities. Known as the Aleutian Keeper, CGC SPAR is a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender homeported in Kodiak, Alaska that executes the Coast Guard’s maritime missions throughout Alaska.

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