Alert’s Deployment Ends Early After Engineering Issues
ALAMEDA, Calif. — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alert returned to their homeport March 16 in Astoria, Oregon, following a 39-day deployment in the Eastern Pacific that concluded early due to a series of engineering malfunctions aboard the 49-year-old ship, the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area said in a release.
The crew departed Astoria Feb. 5 to conduct a counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific when the ship suffered more than 35 equipment casualties within the first 19 days of their patrol, including malfunctions in the ship’s radar, propulsion and fuel systems.
The ship’s main diesel engine also suffered a crankcase explosion, resulting from a seized bearing on an oil pump, which caused a week-long delay in Panama while the crew inspected the engine. Following the inspection, a decision was made to end the patrol.
“We left on patrol with great hopes and a crew at top performance, thoroughly trained and operationally tested, but one of our main engines broke, sending us home before we got into any operations, which was very disappointing for everyone,” said Cmdr. Tobias Reid, Alert’s commanding officer. “Our engineers did an outstanding job responding to the casualty and put a huge amount of effort into repairing the engine on station, but it requires an extensive overhaul that can only be completed at home.”
Alert was commissioned in 1969 and is one of 14 remaining 210-foot Reliance-class medium-endurance cutters in the Coast Guard’s fleet. Alert is one of three 210-foot cutters stationed on the West Coast — two in Oregon and one in Washington. The cutter supports counter-smuggling missions throughout the Pacific Ocean from the U.S.-Canada border to South America.
The Coast Guard’s fleet of medium-endurance cutters is in the process of being replaced by the offshore patrol cutter beginning in fiscal year 2021.
“The offshore patrol cutter will be the backbone of Coast Guard offshore presence and the manifestation of our at-sea authorities,” said Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard. “It is essential to stopping smugglers at sea, for interdicting undocumented migrants, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting our ports.”