Featured, Maritime

Our Own Coast Guard

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Coast Guard Cutter Mustang, 110 feet long

By Kelley Lane for Seward City News –

Saturday morning we awoke to even more snow in our yard and on the roads than Friday night’s winter wonderland. The Coast Guard’s open house was scheduled from 11am-2pm, off of Port Avenue, but being new to Alaska, I didn’t want to drive in the fresh snow. We walked through beautiful downtown and along the Waterfront park, appreciating anew the benefits of xtra tuff boots. The bay was steaming, the waterfront path clear of snow and the clouds rolling overhead as we made our way through the harbor, enjoying the view of snow coated boats.

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Set of three bunks in the aft berth aboard CGC Mustang

The Coast Guard station and Cutter ship Mustang were indeed open for visitors. The station was grilling burgers and hot dogs, with chips and sodas to complement the smoky meats. We shared a cheeseburger and made our way down to the ship at the crew’s encouragement to take a tour. Walking aboard, we met Paula Smith and her husband who were down for the day, visiting from Anchorage. Their daughter works on a 225 (length) coast guard ship out of Pensacola, Florida. The open house in Seward allowed them the opportunity to tour a coast guard ship and get more of a feel for what their daughter’s work environment is like. The Smiths visit Seward a couple of times a year, to visit the Alaska Sealife Center and to accompany visitors on tours of Resurrection Bay.

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Seaman Zach Martinez of Colorado in the Mustang’s Engine Room

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We had the good fortune to be toured around the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Mustang by Seaman Zach Martinez, who hails from Colorado. He arrived to Seward in late summer and will be staying through next summer. At that point, he hopes to be accepted to school in Petaluma, California to train as a machinery technician at the Coast Guard Training Center. Martinez in one of 4 men who currently live in the Unaccompanied Personnel Housing (UPH) located in downtown Seward. UPH is the Coast Guard’s equivalent of barracks, although they are located in the midst of our town, and not on a military base. He began his time here in Alaska by traveling from Juneau to Seward aboard the Mustang, which included a stop in Glacier Bay, the first time that Martinez got to see glaciers up close. He has since been out to Exit Glacier here in Seward.

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The Mustang’s galley & mess area

The Coast Guard’s history is filled with women who have served since the earliest years. Last year the Coast Guard Academy set a record for female enrollment at 38% of its incoming cadets. The Mustang is captained by Jamie Greendyk, who moved to Seward this past summer, coming from Seattle. She and her husband bought a house in downtown “sight unseen” because they needed housing for the two of them as well as for their dog and cat. She had heard of how tough it could be to secure housing in Seward, so planned ahead and began house-hunting through local realtor Jenna Peterson. The Greendyk’s have enjoyed their house and the community of Seward. The Mustang’s Executive Officer Copeland explained that he, too, planned ahead in order to secure housing here in Seward. He was scheduled to arrive in June, one of Seward’s toughest months to find housing. He got help from a previous Coast Guard worker here in Seward in finding and securing his apartment and signed a lease in May.

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The Mustang’s gun visible against the churning skies of Resurrection Bay

Our tour ended back at the Coast Guard’s shore facility where we learned how the crew gets fed while out on their 2 week patrols. The ship has a food specialist (FS) aboard who does their purchasing, much of it through Seward’s Safeway, as well as the cooking while underway. The FS is responsible for providing prepared lunches and dinners, and having ingredients on hand for crew members to prepare their own breakfasts. We enjoyed a second cheeseburger and began our walk back through Seward’s snow coated beauty.

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Seward’s Coast Guard Station, Bear Mountain in the background

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