The 67-year-old United States Coast Guard cutter Acushnet is shown while visiting Juneau in February. The Acushnet was decommissioned during a ceremony Friday in Ketchikan. The Acushnet was originally commissioned as a diver class fleet rescue and salvage vessel, USS Shackle for the U.S. Navy on Feb. 5, 1944. The Acushnet has been designated as a tug, an oceanographic vessel and a medium endurance cutter during her service. As a medium endurance cutter, the Acushnet served in the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean. Primary missions included search and rescue, homeland security, maritime law enforcement and environmental protection. The Acushnet was crowned “Queen of the Fleet” after the decommissioning ceremony of the Coast Guard cutter Storis on Feb. 8, 2007. That moniker will now pass to the Cutter Smilax, a 100-foot inland construction tender commissioned in 1944 and based in Ft. Macon, N.C. During the course of the cutter’s service, Acushnet crews have received the following awards for exemplary service: World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, two Coast Guard Unit Commendations, five Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendations, seven Coast Guard “E” Ribbons, Navy Occupation Service Medal, three National Defense Service Medals, two Humanitarian Service Medals and two Coast Guard Special Operation Ribbons. As of this month no cutter has been named to replace the Acushnet in Ketchikan and none was expected due to economical impacts. The crew of the Acushnet will be ‘cross-planked’ to other vessels and assignments. The loss of 80-plus crew and family to Ketchikan will be felt. The Kodiak-based cutter Munro will continue missions in the Gulf and Bering seas. Sen. Lisa Murkowski stated “the Achushnet’s absence would make it exceptionally difficult for the Coast Guard to meet an already challenging mission it faces in Alaska.”
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