KODIAK - A Coast Guard buoy tender in service since World War II is scheduled to be replaced next year by a new high-tech ship, officials in Kodiak say.
The buoy tender, to be named the Spar, is expected to be homeported in Kodiak in late summer 2001. It would replace the vessel Ironwood, which was commissioned in 1943.
The 225-foot Spar will be one of the so-called Juniper-class vessels under construction by the Coast Guard. The new buoy tender is one of 11 being built under a contract with Wisconsin-based Marinette Marine Corp.
Sitka and Cordova are also tentatively scheduled to homeport new Juniper-class ships in the next two years, the Coast Guard says.
The Juniper-class tenders are equipped with state-of-the-art electronic navigation and positioning equipment that are intended to make them more efficient in maintaining and repairing the nation's system of more than 50,000 buoys, day markers and lights.
The ships also will serve in other Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties, and domestic ice operations.
The Spar will be commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Joanna Noonan, who has been commanding officer of the Ironwood since July 1999, according to Chief Tod Lyons, public information officer for the Coast Guard in Kodiak.
Noonan is one of only four women to take charge of an 180-foot or greater length boat in the Coast Guard.
Spar is a name used for a 180-foot Coast Guard cutter that has been decommissioned.
The previous Spar was part of a three-ship team that broke ice in a history-making 1957 trip from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean across a northern passage, according to the Coast Guard.