ANCHORAGE, Alaska — It's been a busy year in Alaska for the U.S. Coast Guard, from rescuing more than 100 people to saving millions of dollars in property -- and officials want to share five of their favorite moments from 2010 with Alaskans.
“The Coast Guard's got a very diverse mission in Alaska, and our crews do a fantastic job documenting what they do when they're out serving the people of Alaska,” said the Coast Guard’s Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley.
In March, a Kodiak-based C-130 Hercules was dispatched to help out the sailing vessel California, stranded in the Pacific Ocean 1,250 miles south of Kodiak. The Coast Guard crew dropped radio equipment to the California’s crew, who faced 50-mph winds and 20-foot seas.
In April, the Coast Guard and a private explosives company demolished the 1,350-foot-tall Long-Range Aids to Navigation tower on the Seward Peninsula. It was the tallest structure of its kind in the nation, but was at risk of collapsing after LORAN was replaced by the Global Positioning System.
On April 20, the crew of a Kodiak-based MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter had to rescue four crewmen from the sinking fishing vessel Northern Belle. A crew member reported that four people were aboard the Seattle-based 75-foot-long vessel, and that they were abandoning ship.
The Northern Belle’s captain, Robert Royer, died in the sinking; an investigation is continuing.
Communication in Alaska is vital for the coast guard This year, the Coast Guard Aids to Navigation team completed a build of the 15-food Aid to Navigation tower four miles south of Point Hope -- the only such permanent tower north of the Arctic Circle.
“The people of Alaska really understand this, because Alaska is so intertwined with the maritime environment, but I don't think everybody understands everything we do,” Mosley said.
Earlier this month, the Coast Guard helped prevent an fuel spill in the Bering Sea. The freighter Golden Seas experienced a turbocharger failure in its engine room, stranding the ship in 30-foot seas near the Aleutian island of Atka.
Coast Guard officials worried that the 738-foot-long ship would run aground and spill nearly 500,000 gallons of fuel and canola seed on board. A Coast Guard cutter responded and helped the ship arrive safely in Dutch Harbor.
“Anytime we can go out and help someone return to their loved ones safely, whether that means we use our helicopters or we use the power of modern-day technology through radios to help people get to the person in need, we would consider that a success,” Mosley said.
To sum up 2010, Coast Guard members in Alaska have saved 142 lives, assisted more than 800 mariners and saved more than $58 million in property.