Cleat delivers the goods

A crewmember aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Cleat watches as its small boat departs the ship for a patrol on the Potomac River. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary photo by Joseph P. Cirone.

A crewmember aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Cleat watches as its small boat departs the ship for a patrol on the Potomac River. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary photo by Joseph P. Cirone.

What do our fans want to read more about? Recently one of our readers, Dan Hamilton, sent us an email wanting to know more about the 65-foot ice breaking harbor tug Coast Guard Cutter Cleat. Read on to hear more about Cleat and the important missions they perform day in and day out. And don’t forget to submit your own story ideas!

As the frigid winter months descend upon the City of Brotherly Love, it’s not uncommon to look out on the water and see a black-hulled vessel more reminiscent of a tugboat then its icebreaker heritage.

Reinforced with steel, along with a unique hull shape that facilitates the transit and breaking of ice-covered waters that would normally cripple conventional ships, Coast Guard Cutter Cleat clears vital paths necessary to sustain the economy and way-of-life up and down the Delaware River. In service since 1967, the 65-foot ice-breaking harbor tug is capable of breaking up to 18 inches of ice and is an essential resource for ports and waterways that are shallow in nature, which prevent larger ice-breaking cutters from reaching.

“During January and February, East Coast ports can receive more than 15 million tons of petroleum products, food and other cargo,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Eamon McCormack, Cleat’s officer in charge.  “Nearly 70 percent of the home heating oil in the U.S. is used in the Northeast and 90 percent must travel by barge.”

Leading the way in front of these cargo ships and barges is a crew of seven who share an array of responsibilities.

The Coast Guard Cutter CLEAT is the newest of the fleet of small ice-breaking tugboats in service for the Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Coast Guard Cutter CLEAT is the newest of the fleet of small ice-breaking tugboats in service for the Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

“It’s critical that each member not only knows their own job on board the cutter, but also the job of their fellow crewmembers,” added McCormack.  “It is not uncommon to see boatswain’s mates, machinery technicians, seaman, and firemen working side by side in the engine room, on the bridge of the cutter or on the exterior decks during anchoring, towing and small boat lowering activities.”

Cleat’s scope of missions goes far beyond just the duties of ice-breaking. From law enforcement to search and rescue, to unique missions such as providing security for the State of the Union Address to post-Hurricane Irene port assessments of the Delaware River allowing the opening of the waterway to all marine traffic, the Cleat keeps busy no matter what time of year it is.

“Cleat is not just an ice-breaking vessel,” said McCormack.  “We strive to provide the American public the best possible product in all of the cutters missions. Cleat will continue to provide the citizens and mariners of Sector Delaware Bay and the 5th District the same level of service it has for the last 45 years.  Cleat’s future is burning brightly and will continue to meet the missions of the Coast Guard by skilled professional Coast Guard men and women.”

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