SEATTLE — A local Coast Guard crew returned home Monday after an 86-day patrol of the Bering Sea that covered nearly 15,000 miles conducting search and rescue and fisheries enforcement operations.
The more than 160-person crew of the Mellon left Seattle May 10 to conduct missions throughout the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Those efforts included 41 law enforcement boardings and more than 100 hours aboard commercial fishing vessels.
“Of all the fish the United States harvests each year, Alaska brings in more than 50 percent of it,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Roy Hawes. “It’s a $6 billion dollar industry and the healthiest fishery in the world. If we don’t monitor the area, we run the risk of overfishing … like we have seen in other parts of the world. The Coast Guard uses these patrols to regulate fishing quotas and enforce safety regulations that protect fishermen, their ships and U.S. resources.”
While patrolling the Aleutian Islands, the crew came to the aid of a fishing vessel crew following an engineroom fire. The cutter’s highly skilled damage control team performed a thorough post-fire analysis and eliminated or isolated damaged engineroom wiring to mitigate the risk of the fire re-igniting. In an evolution that took more than 15 hours, the Coast Guardsmen escorted the fishing vessel safely to Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
The crew also participated in community relations events while taking time in port to resupply the cutter. During a port call to Unalaska Island, Alaska, the crew helped with landscaping and painting at the Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church, a national historic site.
The crew of Mellon will participate in the Parade of Ships taking place in Elliott Bay, Wednesday, starting at approximately 1:45 p.m. The cutter will be open for public tours on Pier 90 Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. A schedule of events can be found at www.seafair.com.
The Seattle visit offers the public an opportunity to tour the cutter and meet Coast Guardsmen as they showcase the ship’s capabilities and give the public a behind-the-scenes look at military life aboard the vessel. It also gives citizens a chance to gain a better understanding of how the sea service supports the maritime strategy and national defense of the United States.
“Fleet Week offers the public a glimpse of life in the Coast Guard and how we do what we do,” said Lt. Steven Davies, operations officer aboard Mellon. “For us, it’s a great way to be welcomed home after crushing it on a long, successful patrol.”
Mellon is commanded by Capt. Jose L. Jimenez. High endurance cutters like Mellon are built for extended offshore patrols including operations requiring enhanced communications, and helicopter and pursuit boat operations, which provide a key capability for homeland security and humanitarian missions at sea.