Frank Drew

Life aboard cutter Frank Drew

Coast Guard Cutter Frank Drew is a 175-foot Keeper-class coastal buoy tender. First launched in 1999, the primary mission for the crew is servicing aids to navigation. Like other Coast Guard asset’s however, the crew has additional roles and responsibilities, including ice breaking, search and rescue and coastal security.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Cummings, an electrician's mate at Coast Guard Station Portage, Mich., hauls a buoy along the station's pier. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Johnson.

Operation Fall Retrieve in full swing

Ice season is here! To ensure the safety of vessels transiting the Great Lakes, crews from around the 9th Coast Guard District began their annual buoy retrieval, Operation Fall Retrieve. Operation Fall Retrieve, which affects lighted and unlighted buoys and beacons, commenced with a goal of retrieving 1,278 navigational aids. The operation, the largest domestic ATON recovery operation in the U.S., is scheduled to be complete in late December.

Buoy operations

Rising to the challenge: Low water on the Mississippi River

The rise and fall of river water levels is a constant, impacted by flooding and drought. It’s something those who work on or around the river contend with on a regular basis. This year, rivers throughout the Midwest region are experiencing record low water levels and natural relief through the winter may be minimal. As water levels drop, the channels in which ships and barges travel shrink in width and depth, creating difficulties for shipping commerce. The U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and shipping industries are working together to adapt to the pressure of keeping the Mississippi River open for commerce and the public.

Eli North

Shipmate of the Week – BM1 Eli North

The Coast Guard Cutter Greenbrier, homeported in Natchez, Miss., follows a star with strong leadership. This northern star guides the crew of the Greenbrier towards a safer tomorrow, and safe mission execution. Petty Officer 1st Class Eli North is the north star of the Greenbrier and has won the hearts of his crew in the one year he has spent as a deck supervisor.

Buoy operations

The ice is coming! The ice is coming!

Like many places around the country, the cold season has arrived on the Great Lakes. Operational seasonality is an ongoing reality for all who call the region home, and Great Lakes crews are all preparing for the ice to come. Just as the summer months bring a busy schedule due to increased search and rescue and law enforcement cases, the winter brings a hectic schedule full of ice maintenance operations including search and rescue, ice-breaking and aids-to-navigation.

Working a buoy

Willow works the waterways

Just hours after “Superstorm” Sandy had made landfall, Coast Guard Cutter Willow was deployed. Homeported in Newport, R.I., Willow is a 225-foot buoy tender with the ability to perform many of the Coast Guard missions. But it wasn’t icebreaking or enforcing laws the Eastern seaboard needed. It was safety on the waterways.


Got questions? This buoy tender sailor has answers.

We asked our Facebook fans if they could ask a buoy tender sailor anything, what would it be? And with more than 300 questions asked, it was clear you were all eager to hear more about the men and women […]

Lighting the way

Lighting the way

Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Reinhart, 9th Coast Guard District public affairs. Although not as exciting as search and rescue or maritime law enforcement, the Coast Guard’s aids to navigation mission is an essential link that helps sustain […]

120417-G-PF502-039 Buckthorn Spring Restore

Buoy up!

What body of water is the largest system of fresh, surface water on Earth, containing roughly 21 percent of the world’s supply? If you answered the Great Lakes, you are correct! The entire Great Lakes system is connected by a […]


Shipmate of the Week – BM2 Hannah Amos-McDowell

A young woman, who grew up watching Coast Guard boats in action along the waterfront of her hometown, walked into her local recruiting office with a desire to serve. The recruiter asked what she was interested in and she simply stated, […]

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