First Alaska fast response cutter enters service

First Alaska fast response cutter enters service
The crew of USCG Fast Response Cutter John McCormick stands proud facing the crowd of the commissioning ceremony at Coast Guard Base Ketchikan, Alaska.

The Coast Guard’s newest fast response cutter, Coast Guard Cutter John F. McCormick, officially entered the fleet on Wednesday. While fast response cutters have been in the fleet since 2012, this marks a significant moment for the Coast Guard’s operations in Alaska and in the region, as McCormick is the first of its class stationed in the state and the first on the west coast.

These ships bring modern capabilities to conduct fisheries patrols, search and rescue and national defense missions for the nation. At 154-feet long, fast response cutters are designed to spend 2,500 hours per year at sea. These extended hours, longer than any previous coastal patrol boat, will enhance the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out its underway missions.

Commanding officer, Lt. Mike Moyseowicz, led his crew on a transit that was 6,200 nautical miles from Key West, Florida, to reach their homeport of Ketchikan, Alaska. This voyage included many “firsts” for a fast response cutter: first transit through the Panama Canal and first visit to U.S. west coast ports.

What the ship has in capability it also has in character. For the crew of the McCormick, the ship’s namesake carries with it a legacy they aspire to as they patrol throughout the waters off Alaska – executing Coast Guard missions.

John F. McCormick was a boatswain at Station Point Adams, located at the mouth of the Columbia River. Established in 1887, the keepers and surfmen who stood the watch at Point Adams were responsible for saving lives in the high surf off the Pacific Northwest, one of the most perilous maritime environments in the world. This area requires exceptional skill, and grit, to succeed.

Such was the case on March 26, 1938. As officer-in-charge of motor lifeboat Triumph, McCormick was called to duty at the river bar as several boats crossed. When one of the crossing boat’s barges drifted into the outer break, McCormick and his crew moved in to assist. As he did this, Triumph was hit by one of the river’s infamously formidable waves; Triumph’s masts were fully submerged. Robert O. Bracken, one of Triumph’s surfman, was thrown overboard.

Working with his fellow crewmen McCormick deftly maneuvered through the current and breakers to save Bracken. For his actions, McCormick was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal.

“It is very humbling to honor the legacy of John McCormick and all the other Coast Guard enlisted heroes by serving on this amazing new ship,” said Moyseowicz.

“This platform provides us with an awesome opportunity to give back to the fishing communities and residents of Alaska that have gone without 110-foot patrol boat support for a significant amount of time,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Halbrooks, a boatswain’s mate aboard the new cutter.

“We are ready to do our mission up here,” Halbrooks added. “With the cutter now officially in the fleet, we will get underway, guided by their ship’s motto: Stewards of the Last Frontier.”

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