Coast Guard cutter marks anniversary

Commanding officer of the Liberty makes changes toward environmental conservation

Posted: Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The captain and crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty marked the patrol boat's 20th year in service recently with a small ceremony and tours in downtown at Station Juneau.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

The Liberty, named after Liberty Island in New York Harbor, was commissioned on Dec. 18, 1989. Home-ported in Auke Bay, it is the 34th of the Coast Guard's 49 110-foot patrol boats.

Liberty and its two officers and 16 enlisted crew conduct law enforcement, search and rescue and homeland security missions throughout the region. Its multi-mission capability includes marine environmental protection, aids to navigation and boating safety.

Lt. Brian Tesson, commanding officer of the Liberty who took his post in June, has made several changes in a nod toward conservation.

Tesson, who has served on seven Coast Guard patrol boats, decided to reduce Liberty's propulsion fuel consumption by slowing its long-haul transit speed by 4 knots, from 30 knots to 26.

The fuel savings are 100 gallons an hour, or 1,200 gallons per 224-mile trip to Ketchikan, a frequent destination for the crew.

"If we slow down a bit we lose 90 minutes in transit per trip but are saving about $55,000 a year," Tesson said. "From a conservation standpoint, we're burning one-third the fuel and one-third less emissions."

The slower speed also makes the trip more pleasant in the engine room, where Chief Petty Officer Nicklas Buddo takes his watch.

"When we go slower it's not as hot in there, not as noisy and we don't have to worry about oil spills as much," he said.

The crew also started using rechargeable batteries for emergency lighting and fluorescent instead of incandescent light bulbs. They filter water into pitchers instead of going through cases of bottled water a week.

They also turn off lights and shut doors to keep heat in.

Buddo said the new conservation measures seem natural.

"I do the same stuff at home," he said.

Tesson said he hopes the conservation measures will be a springboard for more ideas to come from the crew.

Liberty is known in the region for its efforts in search and rescue operations, as well as its annual participation in the blanket, coat and toy drive that provides needed items to rural villages near the December holidays.

The patrol boat holds the record for the largest hash oil bust in Alaska history, from the fishing vessel 819 in October 2007, completed in conjunction with Alaska State Troopers.

Liberty also responded during the grounding of both the 178-foot cruise ship Spirit of Glacier Bay, in Tarr Inlet in July 2008, and the 229-foot cruise ship Empress of the North, in Icy Strait in May 2007.

• Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or

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