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WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ Senator Lisa Murkowski received a letter from the United States Coast Guard notifying her that the 110-foot U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Chandeleurwill be headed to Ketchikan in early 2012, in an effort to fill the void created by the decommissioning of the USCGC Acushnet in March. â€œThe Acushnet was the â€˜Queen of the Coast Guard Fleet,â€™ and theyâ€™re replacing it with a 110-foot island class patrol ship that will have difficulty making it far out into just the Gulf of Alaska,â€ said Murkowski. â€œAlaska demands more, and America deserves more to protect our vast northern waters and interests.â€
Until its decommissioning four months ago, the USCGC Acushnet was the longest serving cutter in the U.S. Coast Guard, with a record dating back to World War II. Its duties entailed search and rescue, homeland security, Maritime Law enforcement and environmental protection – and had range to the Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea, North Pacific and Gulf of Alaska. According to the Coast Guard, vessels like the Chandeleur are used in relatively calmer southern waters for drug enforcement, port security and illegal alien interdiction.
In the letter from USCG Captain R. W. Pulver, he informed Senator Murkowski that the Chandeleur was pulled out of the water in Miami, Florida for a 9 month modernization project to replace the “hull, mechanical, and electrical equipment as well as repair damage to the ship’s hull plating.” That 9 month process, plus the time since theAcushnet’s decommissioning, will leave Alaska without a Coast Guard cutter for 13 months.
“Alaska appreciates the Coast Guard’s attentiveness to our unique needs, but our waters require more attention and coverage than the Chandeleur alone can provide,” Murkowski added. “As the Coast Guard ramps up its production of national security cutters, I expect that with declining sea ice opening our seas, the Coast Guard will assign at least one of its large new ships to Alaska waters in the future.”