The Coast Guard cutter Alex Haley and crew returned home Wednesday evening following a six-week deployment to Puget Sound, where the crew underwent a challenging period of training and evaluation.
The ship first stopped in Seattle, where a large part of the crew completed team firefighting and damage control courses where crewmembers learned fire-fighting techniques and had to control flooding in a tank made to simulate an engineering space on a sinking ship.
With almost 60 of the 100-person crew on their first assignment to a ship, the learning curve was steep at times. “I’ve never been through anything like it before,” said Seaman Apprentice Charles Lynch, of Annapolis, Md., “It really taught me how to work as a team in a tough situation.”
Following this training the ship sailed north to Naval Station Everett Washington and began a rigorous three-week Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA). TSTA is a biennial evaluation completed by all major Coast Guard cutters. Training teams and watch standers are graded on their ability to conduct drills and training and to accomplish all mission areas including weapons control, navigating in different conditions, towing other vessels, rendering assistance, and combating fires, flooding, and structural damage.
The crew of the Alex Haley performed exceptionally at TSTA, being the first ship in recent years to score perfect marks in all mission areas. “Similar to fishing vessels alone
at sea, emergency drills and all hands knowing how our damage control equipment operates is vital to ensuring we can handle any problem that may come up on our ship or in assisting other mariners,” said Cmdr. Craig Lloyd, the ship’s commanding officer.
A broom is hoisted from the ship’s mast signaling that the crew made a ‘clean sweep’ in all TSTA missions. Such a broom will be flying when the Alex Haley returns to the Coast Guard base.