Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau returns to Hawaii from Bering Sea patrol

MorgenthauHONOLULU — The Honolulu-based Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau returned home Sunday after a 90-day 15,000 mile patrol in the Bering Sea.

During the patrol, the crew conducted numerous search and rescue missions, enforced fisheries regulations in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska and participated in community relations events in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

Only days after arriving in theater, Morgenthau was diverted to the aid of a 35-foot sailboat adrift in the Gulf of Alaska.  The sailing vessel, Rafiki, was in transit from Australia to Canada with the 79-year-old captain the sole occupant.  When the engine died and the sails ripped in a gale, the vessel was rendered inoperable and in grave peril nearly 100 miles from the closest land. The captain managed to rig a solar panel to power his satellite communications system and transmit a Mayday signal. Morgenthau raced to the scene, through narrow channels and rough seas, locating the derelict sailboat. The captain was cold, hungry, and dehydrated, but was quickly rescued and brought aboard Morgenthau. While the vessel was towed to Dutch Harbor for repairs, the captain shared stories of his travels, over a much welcomed cup of hot chocolate.

Much of Mogenthau’s patrol was interspersed with search and rescue cases and towing operations. One case involved a cattle transport vessel reported overdue during a severe storm near Unalaska Island. After arriving on-scene Morgenthau’s crew located the vessel taking shelter in a nearby inlet. The ship and crew were safe from harm, but had lost contact due to the storm.

An additional case occurred nearly 400 miles south of Dutch Harbor, when a 400-foot cargo ship BBC Colorado became disabled while in transit across the Pacific. Morgenthau’s crew provided critical command and control support at the scene ensuring their safety while waiting for a large seagoing tug boat capable of towing the massive vessel to Seattle. All parties arrived safe.

 

Most recently, Morgenthau’s crew rendered assistance to a crab boat participating in the fall 2016 red king crab season. The Pacific Sounder lost its propeller only a short time after beginning the season. Pacific Sounder and the crew of seven weathered 20-foot seas until Morgenthau’s crew took the vessel in tow to Dutch Harbor for repairs.

Morgenthau’s crew also conducted interagency operations with personnel from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement. Morgenthau’s boarding teams conducted 15 at-sea and pier side boardings with an embarked NOAA enforcement officer, an expert on living marine resource regulations in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.  Together, the Coast Guard and NOAA ensured that the all vessels operating in one of the harshest environments in the world were safely and properly operated. Morgenthau conducted additional 30 boardings in the region as the sole enforcement authority.

Morgenthau’s crew made six port calls in Dutch Harbor. During the brief stops, the crew took the opportunity to volunteer in the small fishing town. The crew assisted in the community center’s Halloween night and conducted clean-ups at local memorial sites.

Morgenthau is one of the Coast Guard’s five remaining 378-foot high endurance cutters still in operation. The fleet of cutters is presently being replaced by the national security cutters which will soon serve as the Coast Guard’s primary, long-range asset

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