Coast Guard holds welcoming ceremony for Great Lakes cutter to new homeport of Cleveland

9th Coast Guard District News
CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard 9th District welcomed a new addition to the service’s Great Lakes cutter fleet during a ceremony Wednesday at the Coast Guard’s Cleveland Moorings facility.

Rear Adm. Michael Parks, Coast Guard 9th District commander, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, and other local and military agency representatives were on hand to welcome the ship and 17 crewmembers to their new homeport.

“She’s pretty unique, but a constant has always been operational excellence, and my crew and I look forward to continuing that tradition in the Great Lakes,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ben Keffer, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay. “As an Ohio native, there’s no better place to be than Cleveland.”

Cutter Morro Bay was commissioned in 1981, homeported in Yorktown, Va., and operated mainly on the Chesapeake Bay, until its decommissioning in 1998. However, after the 9/11 attacks, the Coast Guard wanted more resources in the Northeast for security operations and brought the ship back to service. The Coast Guard shifted its homeport to New London, where the vessel fell under the operational control of the Coast Guard 1st District.

For the past several winters, the Coast Guard has temporarily assigned one of the 1st District’s Bay Class ice-breaking tugs to the Great Lakes to assist the 9th District’s crews with domestic ice-breaking operations. However, these seasonal deployments were not ideal due to the high cost, the operational hours lost in transit, and the toll on personal lives of the crewmembers and their families.

The Coast Guard conducted a mission analysis in March 2011 to consider such things as search-and-rescue readiness, distribution of workload on ice-breaking assets, and overall readiness and maintenance of the cutter fleet. That study determined Lake Erie to be the best fit for a homeport. A feasibility study conducted later determined the Coast Guard-owned Cleveland Moorings facility to be the best location for the ship’s homeport, where it will join Coast Guard Cutter Neah Bay as the eastern-most ice-breaking cutters in the Great Lakes. There are no Coast Guard icebreakers homeported in Lake Ontario.

The crew of cutter Morro Bay will serve across the Great Lakes region, contributing to Operations Taconite and Coal Shovel, the nation’s largest domestic ice-breaking operations. During the winter months, the 9th District’s fleet of cutters provides ice-breaking services for search and rescue, other emergency operations, flood mitigation, and the facilitation of navigation to meet the reasonable demands of commerce. During the summer months, the cutters are still available to aid in search and rescue and other emergency operations.

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay, a 140-foot ice-breaking tug formerly homeported in New London, Conn., moored the ship at its new homeport at the Cleveland Moorings on Sunday.

Photos from the ceremony my be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/coastguardnews/

 

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