Around the United States in 46 days

Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Meredith Manning

Coast Guard Cutter Farallon rests at a pier in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, June 14, 2015. The stop in Cabo San Lucas was one of eight port calls the crew made on their journey to Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Coast Guard Cutter Farallon rests at a pier in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, June 14, 2015. The stop in Cabo San Lucas was one of eight port calls the crew made on their journey to Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

After traveling to four foreign nations, navigating through a hurricane and steaming more than 9,000 miles over 46 days, Coast Guard Cutter Farallon has arrived in its new homeport of Valdez, Alaska.

Crewmembers aboard the 110-foot cutter said goodbye to their family and the Farallon’s homeport of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to deliver the cutter to replace Coast Guard Cutter Long Island.

During a port call to Bocas Del Toro, Panama, the crew had the opportunity to explore beautiful beaches and go zip lining through the rain forest.

“It was great experiencing other cultures and places and I was able to do it with an awesome crew,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Julio Ruiz, an engineer on the Farallon.

It was during their transit through the Panama Canal that the Farallon crew passed the Cutter Long Island, as it transited to the Atlantic Ocean. Ordinarily, the occasion of two cutters passing one another would bring both crews onto the decks to render honors to one another. However, navigating the canal at night required careful attention and both crews put safety first while making the challenging trip.

The crew met another challenge on the way to Cabo San Lucas when they encountered Hurricane Carlos. The storm created 15-foot seas and 50-mph winds that tested the abilities of the crew and prepared the cutter for the kind of weather it might encounter in Alaska.

“Those were the worst seas I think we have seen in my year aboard the Farallon,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Nathaniel O’Connell, operations petty officer.

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Farallon gather on the bow of the cutter after a change of command ceremony in San Francisco, June 29, 2015. Lt. Lee K. Crusius took command of the Farallon while the cutter was en route to its new homeport in Valdez, Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Farallon gather on the bow of the cutter after a change of command ceremony in San Francisco, June 29, 2015. Lt. Lee K. Crusius took command of the Farallon while the cutter was en route to its new homeport in Valdez, Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

While the first half of the trip brought on some unique challenges and enjoyable foreign port calls, pulling in to San Diego was especially rewarding for the crew as it represented being back in the United States. Moments after the ship moored at Point Loma Naval Base in San Diego, crewmembers immediately called loved ones for the first time in almost a month.

After reconnecting with loved ones in San Diego, the crew made their way north to San Francisco where they said goodbye to their commanding officer, Lt. Nolan Cain, during a change of command ceremony. His departure represented the first of many to come for the San Juan-based crew. With a new commanding officer, Lt. Lee K. Crusius, the Farallon continued the transit north to Valdez.

Following port calls in Victoria, B.C., and Ketchikan, Alaska, the Farallon crew began the final leg of their transit. As the cutter eased into the Gulf of Alaska, the weather was calm and welcoming, a huge relief to the crew after the challenging sojourn. As the cutter approached the Valdez Narrows, Seaman Mathew Huber raised the National Ensign on the mast signifying that the Farallon had made it to Valdez.

“It was definitely a long transit and a learning experience for me, but I am honored to have been part of this homeport shift and this crew,” said Ensign John Ramirez, operations officer aboard the Farallon. “Over the past 46 days we came together as a family and I would serve with any of these guys again. Not many ensigns can say they sailed a 110’ from Puerto Rico to Alaska.”

Farallon crewmembers will now begin departing to their new units as the Long Island crew takes charge of the new Valdez cutter. After a 30-year career serving the Coast Guard’s Seventh District conducting counter drug and alien-migrant operations, the Farallon will transition to serve the Seventeenth District. She is ready to answer the call of the nation, as she had done since she was commissioned in 1986.

After 23 years of service in the Coast Guard, the Long Island departed its homeport of 12 years for its final journey to the Coast Guard’s shipyard in Baltimore, Maryland, where it will be decommissioned.

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