Secure Around Flotation Equipped (SAFE) Boat 256610 will be officially dedicated to use by United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Station Seward on May 17. The 10 a.m. ceremony at the Seward Boat Harbor south boat ramp in Alaska will includ music by the Air Force Band of the Pacific brass quintet and followed by orientation rides on the vessel and tours of the U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Mustang.
The 25-ft. vessel, formerly assigned to Coast Guard Station Ketchikan, was delivered in August 2002 to AUXSTA Seward. The SAFE boat, like its sister vessel SAFE Boat 256611 assigned to the Auxiliary in Whittier, will primarily serve in a 40-mile radius from Seward, supporting the Coast Guard in search and rescue. Both boats are owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and operated by trained and qualified Coast Guard Auxiliary members.
The addition of “Auxiliary Vessel 610," as it is known to the Auxiliary, will greatly enhance the capabilities of AUXSTA Seward. This fast boat is equipped with state of the art electronics and is well designed for small boat towing. Initially it will be operating a weekend safety patrol schedule during the boating season
AUXSTA Seward was officially established in 1999, the same year that the Seward Flotilla was chartered. The AUXSTA serves as a multi-flotilla center for Coast Guard Auxiliary operations on the southeast side of the Kenai Peninsula, from Cloudy Cape to the east, Cape Pudget to the west, and south to Seal Rocks.
Auxiliary coxswains and crew are trained to the same small boat standards as active duty Coast Guard members. In the past, AUXSTA Seward has relied on privately owned boats to undertake safety patrols and SAR missions. Like all members of the USCG Auxiliary, the boat owners and operators are civilian volunteers who work regular jobs during the week. These volunteer lifesavers and their boats come to Seward from five flotillas - Seward, Anchorage, Whittier, Mat-Su and Kenai. The volunteers dedicated in excess of 4,000 hours during the summers of 1999-2001 to meet the demanding challenges of safety patrols and SAR operations in Resurrection Bay and the surrounding waters. During this same timeframe, the Auxiliarists performed 46 SAR cases involving 161 boaters and property valued at more than $2.9 million.
As the Seward Flotilla grows and is capable of providing a greater portion of the trained personnel, it is expected to assume a larger responsibility for the AUXSTA and SAFE Boat operations. This will facilitate the addition of weekday emergency response and the extension of operations into the spring and fall seasons.
The proposal to man SAFE boats with Alaska Auxiliarists was based on observations of the success of Canadian Coast Guard (Pacific) search and rescue vessels used in British Columbia. Among the guests expected at the ceremony is Malcolm Dunderdale, vice president, Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary
- Pacific. Other attendees are Capt. Michael Neussl, chief, search and rescue branch, District 17, U. S. Coast Guard; Lt. Cmdr. Chris Honse, director of Auxiliary for District 17, Lt. Brian Anderson, commanding officer
of the Mustang; Commodore Gary Taylor, leader of the state’s 400 Auxiliarists; and Stu Clark, mayor of Seward.