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Coast Guard's newest cutter to visit Juneau today

Parnell to tour USCGC Bertholf on Monday

Posted: April 9, 2011 - 8:58pm

The United States Coast Guard’s newest and most advanced series of cutter will arrive in Juneau today.

The USCGC Bertholf, a 418-feet long national security cutter home ported in Alameda, Calif., will be conducting its first Alaskan patrol beginning with the capital city’s docking.

Gov. Sean Parnell will tour the Bertholf on Monday with USCG 17th District Chief of Staff Captain Norman Custard and District Commander Rear Adm. Christopher Colvin. The Bertholf will be open for public viewing on Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The Bertholf is the first of eight planned cutters of its kind that are replacing the 378-foot high endurance Hamilton Class cutters that have served the fleet since the 1960s.

“It is the first made in this newest series of cutters,” USCG D17 public affairs specialist Jon-Paul Rios said. “The Bertholf is the most technically advanced cutter series in the fleet.”

The capabilities of the Bertholf make it ideal for national defense missions, maritime homeland security and law enforcement duties.

The Bertholf’s weapons department features gunnery, deck, and law enforcement divisions.

Gunnery is responsible for the ship’s small arms programs, inspections, safety, and security, and daily accountability of all small arms, ammunition, and pyrotechnics.

Deck cares for the ships ground tackle, rescue and survival equipment and operation of the ship’s cutter boats. The Bertholf can carry three cutter boats including the new Long Range Interceptor and Short Range Prosecutor. Deck conduct in port watches and underway watches and small boat operations, mooring, anchoring, and helicopter operations are other responsibilities.

The Bertholf features the first dedicated cutter-based law enforcement division.

The Bertholf’s Engineering Department features a main propulsion, damage control, electrical, and auxiliary division.

Two diesel engines generating 9,000 horsepower apiece and one gas turbine adding 29,000 horsepower combine to propel the Bertholf at speeds greater than 28 knots.

An Operations Department features the electronics, combat systems, and navigation divisions.

Equipment includes HF, VHF, and UHF radios, satellite communications, crypto logic equipment, electronic surveillance measures equipment and other equipment.

A Supporting Department includes administration, supply, food service, and health services divisions.

The USCGC Bertholf is named for Commodore Ellsworth Price Bertholf, the first commandant of the Coast Guard. Born in New York City on April 7, 1866, Bertholf entered the Revenue Cutter Service as a cadet, graduated, and was commissioned on June 12, 1889.

It is fitting that the Bertholf is conducting Alaskan patrols as it’s namesake is known for the Overland Expedition in 1897 in which he led a trip via dogsled over 1,600 miles, herding reindeer to feed over 200 starving whalers who were trapped at Point Barrow. Bertholf retired as commandant of the Coast Guard on June 30, 1919 and became a vice-president of the American Bureau of Shipping. He died Nov. 11, 1921 and was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

In a USCG press release, Rear Adm. Colvin said, “With its first patrol in Alaskan Waters, the cutter will continue Commodore Bertholf’s legacy of professionalism and heroic action in Alaskan waters. It is exciting to have the Bertholf in Alaskan waters from April to June. We look forward to learning how this new class of cutter performs in Alaska’s challenging maritime environment.”

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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