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USCG starts to shift some Marine Protector-class vessels to Alaska

The relatively large Marine Protector-class pilot house features an integrated bridge system with an electronic chart display system. (Michael Fabey)

To augment its naval force in the American higher latitudes, the US Coast Guard (USCG) decided to shift some of its 87-foot (23.8-m) Marine Protector-class vessels to Alaska.

“This year we brought uptwo 87 [-foot] patrol boats, which will now be permanently stationed in Alaska,” Boatswain's Mate Chief Petty Officer (BMC) Sean Crocker, officer in charge (OIC), Juneau Station, told Janes.

This shift will help as the USCG starts to decommission its 110-ft (33.5-m) Island-class boats, service officials said.

“That will help with more full-time coverage – they are newer assets than the 110s,” BMC Crocker said. “We'll see how they handle in the winter months. It's meant for near-shore patrols, not deeper water or bigger weather.”

However, Lieutenant Kane Alletzhauser, captain of the Protector-class vessel CGC Reef Shark (WPB 87371) that arrived in Ketchikan, Alaska, in July, told Janes the patrol boat may be just what's needed in Alaskan waters.

“Particularly for Alaskan waters and the inside passages,” he said during a tour of the vessel. “There are a lot of tight places. It's an ultra-manoeuvrable ship. It doesn't have a bow thruster like the FRC (Fast Response Cutter), but it's so small we can get away without having that. Our draft is only about 6 ft (1.8 m), we can get into some tough spots.”

The stern ramp-launched 5.5 m rigid inflatable boat (RIB) system also provides for ease of such operations, and the vessel's forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system makes for easier navigation and easier to identify other vessels, he added.

Reef Shark

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