Alaska buoytender services Pacific Northwest aids

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard Cutter Maple, homeported in Sitka, continues its voyage along the Pacific Northwest coast servicing vital aids to navigation.

The ship and crew have spent the last three weeks along the west coast repairing and replacing buoys vital to safe navigation.  The Maple’s crew has also spent several days with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration servicing scientific and weather data buoys more than 600 miles offshore.

“These buoys serve the mariners, their livelihoods and allow the safe movement of goods across the nation” said Lt. Cmdr. Dan Gray, commanding officer of the Maple.  “As global commerce grows the largest volume of goods still moves across the sea, which is why we need reliable buoys and beacons.”

The cutter Maple’s current mission has taken the ship and crew far from its normal operating area in Southeast Alaska due to many similar ships on the west coast having been deployed to the Gulf of Mexico to assist with oil skimming operations.  Typically the West Coast has five vessels capable of servicing buoys.  Currently there are only three due to the demand of the oil spill.

[amazon-product]156975618X[/amazon-product]Cutter Maple is now off the Oregon coast in the area normally patrolled by the Coast Guard Cutter Fir which is based in Astoria, Ore.

The cutter Fir is currently in the Gulf of Mexico and expected to return home in the next few months.  Until then, the Maple’s crew is busy maintaining buoys near many of Oregon’s coastal communities.

“We are more than happy to backup our fellow buoy tenders wherever we are needed, though the crew is excited to return home to their families in Sitka later in the month,” said Gary.

Commissioned on Oct. 19, 2001, cutter Maple is a 225-foot Juniper-Class buoy tender. The Maple is operated by seven officers and a crew of 46 men and women.

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