Posted by: arbeam | July 24, 2013

June 25: Tour of US Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office (SFO) Port Angeles, WA

(June 25, 2013)Navy League Tour USCG Airstation Port Angeles

(June 25, 2013)Navy League Tour USCG Airstation Port Angeles

PAASThe patch for the Port Angeles Coast Guard Station depicts a grumpy duck in galoshes holding an umbrella.  It was designed in 1935 for Port Angeles Air Station and is still in use today.  In fact, as 26 of us embarked to travel to Port Angeles for our Navy League tour on June 25, 2013 it appeared that we would need to borrow the duck’s gear, but the weather improved nicely and made that unnecessary.

The Port Angeles Coast Guard Station, established in 1935, is located at the far end of Ediz Hook Road and reaching out into the Straight of Juan de Fuca, hosts several Coast Guard cutters, all Coast Guard helicopters for the Puget Sound/Olympic Peninsula region, and serves as a sector field office.  The area was originally declared a light house reservation by President Lincoln in 1863 and was the first Coast Guard Air Station on the west coast.

Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles

USCGC Swordfish

USCGC Swordfish

For our tour we first headed down to the pier where we were able to get a close look at several different cutter types, which included USCGC Active 618, USCGC Cuttyhunk 1322, and three 87 footers, including USCGC Swordfish 87358 which we boarded.  On board we were shown the bridge, engine room, dining and berthing areas, and walked on deck.  The 87 foot cutters carry a crew of 12, can make 25 knots with 2/1500 HP engines and are armed with 2/50 cal. Machine guns.  The area patrolled is from Neah Bay to Whidbey Island into Puget Sound and includes close cooperation with the Canadian Coast Guard.

Lt Anderson

Lt Anderson

From the waterfront we then walked to the nearby aircraft hanger to get a look at and learn about the 3 MH65D Dolphin helicopters based at Port Angeles.  Each aircraft carries a crew of 4 and has an effective range of 150 miles, allowing for about 20 minutes on location and performs PWCSPs (Port, Waterway, Coast Security Patrols).  The area covered ranges from Pt. Roberts to the north to south of Destruction Island in the south and from the coast to Puget Sound.  The nearest air station is in Astoria, OR.  Although over water work is the usual task, the unit has assisted in rescues on Mt. Rainier.  Each aircraft has a 240’ lifting cable, although 30-70’ is the ideal length to be used.  A load of up to 800 pounds can be raised.  A rescue basket and rescue strop are always aboard, and a stokes litter can be added when needed.  We were able to around and look inside #6597, one of the newest in the fleet.  Sharing space in the hanger was #6501…the oldest.

CDR McTigue and Carolyn Dankers

CDR McTigue and Carolyn Dankers

We finally assembled in the historic pilots’ ward room, considered to have possibly the best views of any ward room anywhere.  There we met and were warmly welcomed by CO CDR Keith McTigue who explained how Port Angeles not only performs the above missions but also supports Port Townsend and Neah Bay Coast Guard operations as well as Naval Engineering and Civil Engineering support.

Following some delicious cake and coffee we concluded our tour and headed home.  Another super tour set up by Byron Faber, and sincere thanks to CDR McTigue , Lt Anderson and AETCM Moan and everyone at our adopted unit, the Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office (SFO) Port Angeles. – Norman Marten

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