Thursday, February 12, 2009

My ride on USCGC Sapelo (WPB 1314)

In late 1989, made a trip to Adak, Aleutian Islands, Alaska -- compliments of the U.S. Navy -- to participate in a large multi-service military exercise called PACEX-89.  A couple of U.S. Coast Guard 110-foot Island-Class Patrol Boats had sailed to Adak to participate in this exercise as Coast Guard representatives. Coast Guard crews affectionately call this class of patrol boat the "110'ers." One night after dinner at Naval Air Station Adak Officers Club, I was introduced to Commanding Officer USCGC Sapelo (WPB 1314). A conversation ensued, and the discussion eventually brought an invitation to join his crew at sea the next day aboard the 110-foot Patrol Boat Sapelo.  I've got to report these many years later those hearty Coast Guard 110'er crews... those windy Bering Sea waters north of Adak Island Finger Cove Piers are typically very rough in late fall days. Most of the U.S. Navy ships remained at anchor or tied up to the pier this stormy day... but Sapelo departed on schedule from Finger Cove and proceeded to sea. What a ride it was indeed.  Been to sea on most things that float from aircraft carriers on down to Norfork-based YTB tugs boats, albeit mostly under water on submarines.  And Sapelo's crew navigated her safely back to Finger Cove piers that evening, I'm not too ashamed to report being a bit green-about-the-gills. That firm footing offered by Adak Island piers are a welcome sight is to mild a statement. Departing Alaska following the PACEX-89 military exercise found me with a high degree of added respect for the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard, especially those who crew those small Island Class 110-foot patrol boats. I’ll call these crews new age "Rough Riders." A respectful tip-of-the-hat to the crews of Island-Class Coast Guard Patrol Boats.

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