Baranof lives and sails on

Coast Guard vessel among 41 Island Class cutters, seven named for Alaska landmarks

Posted: Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What U.S. Coast Guard vessel carries the name of a former governor of Alaska? What Coast Guard vessel has the name of a famous Russian?

Courtesy Of The U.s. Coast Guard
Courtesy Of The U.s. Coast Guard

The answer is the same to both questions.

This 110-footer has served a year of war time duty in the waters off the coast of Iraq and is now home ported in Miami.

Her duty there is to patrol the Florida Strait, and her law enforcement job includes counter drug operations, alien migrant interdiction, search and rescue and fisheries enforcement in places like the federal reserve in the Dry Tortugas, west of Key West.

There are 41 ships of this group serving around the world. They are called the Island Class cutters, and include seven ships named for Alaska landmarks, which besides the Baranof include the Adak, Kiska, Knight Island, Kodiak Island, Sitkinak and Wrangell. Wrangell was also a former governor of Alaska.

Alexander Baranov would be proud to know that he has a United States ship named after him. His service for the Russian American Company included a residence in Alaska of close to 30 years, from 1790 to 1818.

In Alaska, the Liberty is based in Auke Bay, the Mustang in Seward, the Roanoke Island at Homer, the Long Island at Valdez and the Naushon at Ketchikan.

Petty officer 3rd class Wes Shinn of the public affairs office also said that the Coast Guard has a fascinating mission this summer in the Arctic Ocean. The cutter Hamilton of 378 feet and the buoy tender Spar of 225 feet are conducting practice search and rescue operations to provide the basis for future aid for vessels in distress.

The warming of the Arctic Ocean environment is calling the five neighboring nations to renewed interest in oil exploration and navigational rights of passage.

We have come a long way from the time when Baranov sailed the rough northern seas of Alaska in his 42-foot wooden sailing boat, the Olga.

• Lifelong Alaskan Elton Engstrom is a retired fish buyer, lawyer and legislator (1964-70) who lives in Juneau.

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