U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard units offer tours during Grand Haven festival

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — The U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Neah Bay and Buckthorn and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley are scheduled to make their official entrance into the Grand River Aug. 2, marking the beginning of a busy and exciting week at the 2010 Coast Guard Festival.

The parade of ships will begin Aug. 2 at 1 p.m. The ships will moor at designated spots along Escanaba Park, adjacent to the Coast Guard Station in Grand Haven.

Each of the ships will be available for public tours at a variety of times from Aug. 2 through Aug. 7, with crewmembers available to answer questions.

The Coast Guard is committed to making the public’s experience on board these cutters a pleasant one, and asks for everyone’s cooperation and patience with these simple safety/security requirements:

  • Though the tour will show off many spaces, some spaces will be off-limits.
  • No, backpacks, coolers or bags of any type, nor open food or drink will be permitted on board. Searches may be conducted.

Additionally, specialized Coast Guard units may be on display at Kids Day Aug. 3 from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., at Mulligan’s Hollow and other times and locations. Visit Coast Guard Sector Field Office Grand Haven at 650 South Harbor Drive for current status.

Cutter Information:
Arriving from Cleveland, Cutter Neah Bay is a 140-foot icebreaking tug. Its primary duty is facilitating the movement and commerce in the ice-choked waterways of the Great Lakes from November to May. Additional missions include search and rescue, public relations and law enforcement. Neah Bay is specially designed for icebreaking missions such as establishing and maintaining tracks and assisting beset vessels. Its 2,500 shaft horsepower propulsion system and hull design are its greatest assets in breaking through restrictive ice formations. Neah Bay can continuously break through 18-30 inches of ice and 3-8 feet while backing and ramming.

Arriving from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Cutter Buckthorn is a 100-foot inland buoy tender, the only cutter of its class. Its shallow draft allows the ship to service aids to navigation in waters that are not navigable by deeper draft vessels. The twin-screw configuration makes the ship highly maneuverable, which is vital for working around shoals and obstructions in placing navigational buoys. Buckthorn’s primary mission is aids-to-navigation on the St. Mary’s River, one of the Great Lakes most critical waterways. The crew is responsible for maintaining 270 buoys, 3 lighthouses, 16 ranges, 71 shore side lights and 39 Canadian buoys as part of an international agreement. Buckthorn also performs light construction work throughout the Great Lakes.

Arriving from Parry Sound, Ontario, Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley is a 229-foot Light Icebreaker and Medium Navigation Aids Tender. The ship is named after the first chairman of the Board of Steamship Inspection, and was the first Type 1050 vessel commissioned by the Canadian Coast Guard. The vessel is powerful with 8840 horsepower in four main engines and highly maneuverable as it is equipped with controllable pitch propellers, bow and stern thrusters and twin rudders. During the primary navigation season, from late March to late December, the ship tends aids to navigation in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. During the winter months, the ship breaks ice in Canadian and U.S. waters from Port Colborne, Ontario to Thunder Bay, Ontario. The vessel can move steadily through ice up to 36 inches thick.

USCGC Hollyhock, which was scheduled to attend is unable to.

The Neah Bay, Buckthorn and Risley will each be available for public tours.

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