USCG gets new vessel to endure rough weather

Posted: Friday, June 23, 2000

Search and rescue missions just got safer for the local U.S. Coast Guard Station.

After 15 years without a heavy weather motor lifeboat, Station Juneau recently accepted delivery of a new 47-foot boat that can brave 30-foot seas, 20-foot surf and 50-knot winds.

``With this boat, our crew on call can be ready to go in three minutes and we will be able to respond in just about all weather,'' said David Rowlett, officer in charge of the Coast Guard Station Juneau.

Typically, the Coast Guard does not name its vessels that are shorter than 65 feet. The new boat will be known as the Motor Lifeboat MLB47261. The moniker symbolizes the boat's length, 47 feet, and its production number.

Along with its state-of-the-art foul and rough weather technology, the $800,000 boat has a range of 200 miles at a top speed of 27 knots. It also has the capacity to roll without incurring damage to itself or its crew, Rowlett said.

``It's designed to roll, re-right itself and continue on its mission,'' he said.

In 1975, the MLB47261's smaller predecessor was destroyed while rescuing a young couple and their small children in Swanson Harbor. Although everyone survived, the hurricane winds, 20-foot seas and heavy freezing spray caused the boat to roll and ground near Whitestone Harbor.

``This new boat is a whole lot more seaworthy and will greatly affect our winter response when the weather can be really bad up here,'' Rowlett said.

The Coast Guard Station Juneau and the new motor lifeboat will be open to the public from noon until 4 p.m., Saturday, at 345 Egan Drive.

``We'll be glad to give people a tour of the station and the opportunity to crawl around the new boat,'' Rowlett said. ``We'll also be available to talk about boating safety.''

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