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USCG faces logistical and operational challenges in Alaska for Island-class patrol forces

Older navigation and propulsion systems make it difficult for the US Coast Guard to operate and maintain Island-class patrol forces. (Michael Fabey)

To maintain its Island-class boats and continue patrolling the treacherous Alaskan coast, the US Coast Guard (USCG) must overcome logistical and operational challenges, USCG officials told Janes .

The USCG believes it can keep the 110-ft (33.5 m) Island-class boats operational as the service builds and deploys the replacement fleet of Fast Response Cutters (FRCs). The USCG commissioned its first 154-ft (46.9 m) Sentinel-class John McCormick (WPC-1121) on 14 April 2017 in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Eventually the remaining dozen Island-class vessels will be replaced by FRCs, countrywide. Alaska USCG officials are planning to keep patrols going until then.

β€œI'm very confident we can maintain the 110s beyond their scheduled decommissionings right now,” Commander Timothy Boettner, commander of the Ketchikan USCG base that supports the regional ship needs, told Janes in July.

He said there are three Island-class boats in Western Alaska and two FRCs supported by Ketchikan.

The dry dock in Ketchikan is more than ample to accommodate the Island-class boats, where the biggest concern is hull repair, he said. Most of the ships from the class were built in the early 1990s, Cmdr Boettner noted. β€œWe're basically renewing the steel on them.”

The difficulty of the repairs depends on the amount of steel required. β€œIt's not linear, it's exponential,” he said.

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