Coast Guard’s 270-foot medium endurance cutter Bear underway in Africa. (Ensign Connor Brown, U.S. Coast Guard)

Commandant Notice below announces this year’s Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence and Superior Cutter Awards. The stories show the resilience and adaptability of our cutter crews.

united states coast guard

R 150718 DEC 20
UNCLAS //N01650//
ALCOAST 451/20
1. The Douglas Munro Chapter of the Surface Navy Association is honored to
announce and congratulate the recipients of the 2020 Hopley Yeaton Cutter
Excellence and Superior Cutterman Awards. This year’s nominations were
absolutely impressive, and were a testament to the hard work being done
by the cutter fleet every day. As nearly half of all USCG personnel serve
afloat in their first four years in the USCG, the cutter fleet is entrusted
with the important task of developing and molding the USCG of the future.
Continue to strive for excellence, while at the same time identifying and
encouraging the future leaders of our fleet.
2. This year’s winners are:
    a. Cutter Excellence Award (Large Cutter): CGC POLAR STAR (WAGB 10)
    b. Cutter Excellence Award (Medium Cutter): CGC BEAR (WMEC 901)
    c. Cutter Excellence Award (Small Cutter): CGC CHEYENNE (WLR 75405)
    d. Superior Cutterman Award (Officer): LCDR Ian Starr – CGC ALEX HALEY (WMEC 39)
    e. Superior Cutterman Award (Enlisted): EMC Dimitri Brisker – CGC WAESCHE (WMSL 751)
3. Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award (Large) – CGC POLAR STAR (WAGB 10):
    a. POLAR STAR, throughout 325 Day Away from Homeport (DAFHP) in 2020,
completed a remarkable 122 day deployment in support of Operation Deep Freeze
(ODF). During ODF, POLAR STAR established and groomed a 22nm channel through
10 foot thick Antarctic ice to resupply McMurdo Station, conducted a three ship
escort into Winter Quarter’s Bay for a sealift of 8M gallons of life sustaining
fuel, 900 containers, and $480M in materials and supplies for infrastructure
recapitalization. During ODF, POLAR STAR also facilitated the State Department’s
historic treaty inspections of Chinese, Italian, and South Korean facilities,
cementing U.S. leadership and influence in the region. Returning home amidst a
global pandemic, the cutter successfully completed their $7.9M, four month dry
dock. POLAR STAR’s unique people plan required few crewmembers to need to spend
more than 215 DAFHP. Lastly, POLAR STAR’s prototyping of Deployment Based Training
(vice TSTA) is setting well-founded precedents for future cutter training models.
    b. Honorable Mentions for the Large Cutter Award are:
        CGC HAMILTON (WMSL 753)
        CGC BERTHOLF (WMSL 750)
        CGC MUNRO (WMSL 755)
4. Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award (Medium) – CGC BEAR (WMEC 901):
    a. In 2020 BEAR executed a very high OPTEMPO of 218 DAFHP in a 242 day period,
exhibiting great flexibility in the execution of an unexpected deployment to West
Africa. Initially slated to patrol in the Eastern Pacific, while on patrol BEAR’s
crew responded admirably to a hole in the engine room, battling flooding at sea
for nearly 16 hours. Over a 5 day period BEAR conducted emergency repairs and
requested $250K in parts and supplies for an Out of Hemisphere (OOH) deployment
3,500 miles away from depot level support. BEAR sailed across the Atlantic to
exercise US-Cabo Verde bilateral agreements during 25 LE exchanges, numerous
exercises, and interdiction of a 280 foot freighter. BEAR’s preparations allowed
for completion of a major at-sea shaft seal replacement and replacement of a 1,200
pound fire pump while in AFRICOM. BEAR also completed a 48 day D7 patrol which
included a 4-day boarding of a 300 foot Haitian Freighter, and a 75 day, $2.4M
drydock during the height of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
BEAR hosted three cutterman calls, including an event supporting the search for
USRC BEAR, was published in the CG Compass and the Maritime Executive, conducted
an information operations campaign earning the attention of the National Security
Council, and prototyped the Abbott Now COVID test machine to mitigate COVID risk.
    b. Honorable Mentions for the Medium Cutter Award are:
        CGC VENTUROUS (WMEC 625)
        CGC CAMPBELL (WMEC 909)
        CGC RESOLUTE (WMEC 620)
5. Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award (Small) – CGC CHEYENNE (WLR-75405):
    a. In remarkable fashion, the 54 year old CHEYENNE, stationed in St. Louis, MO,
serviced over 1,185 buoys and 150 shore aids in FY20. This high optempo across 576
river miles on the Mississippi river and three Sectors, combined with record-high
water, flooding, and other cutter casualties, meant CHEYENNE had more underway
hours than any of the other 33 ATON cutters in D8. Despite the cutter’s age, and
numerous significant casualties including loss of the #1 MDE and cancellation of
the cutter’s drydock, the hard work of CHEYENNE’s crew meant that the cutter only
had 9 days of unscheduled availability, achieving a Ready for Operations rating
of 99%. Despite CHEYENNE’s primary ATON mission, the crew responded to a person
in the water SAR case on June 4th. The watch-stander overheard a “Pan Pan” for a
person in the water near the Gateway Arch, 2.5 miles away. A volunteer boat crew
quickly assembled and launched a small boat, arriving on scene within minutes.
The crew discovered a woman clinging to floating debris up river from a fleet of
barges and moments away from being pulled under by the swift river current. The
boat crew quickly maneuvered through the extreme conditions and rescued the woman,
saving her life. Once onboard the boat crew brought her back to the cutter where
medical personnel provided treatment. This was an especially noteworthy occurrence
because the CHEYENNE does not maintain a SAR ready posture.
    b. Honorable Mentions for the Small Cutter Award are:
        CGC BRISTOL BAY (WTGB 102)
        CGC ISAAC MAYO (WPC 1112)
6. Hopley Yeaton Superior Cutterman Award (Officer) – LCDR Ian Starr:
    a. As Executive Officer of USCGC ALEX HALEY (WMEC 39), LCDR Starr
exemplifies the qualities and characteristics of a Coast Guard Cutterman.
Through his positive engagement with his crew at a remote unit in AK during
a global pandemic, LCDR Starr has been critical to ALEX HALEY’s success in
FY2020. Despite COVID-19, under LCDR Starr’s leadership the overall esprit
de corps of the ALEX HALEY has improved dramatically. Working with HSWL SC
and a broad network of D17 POCs, LCDR Starr was a critical liaison for providing
care to crewmembers suffering from mental health crises during the pandemic,
to include short-notice MEDEVAC of five personnel from the most remote corners
of the D17 AOR. Relying on experience and initiative, LCDR Starr also developed
procedures, later adopted fleet-wide, to expedite testing for individuals underway
in a remote AOR. A caring individual dedicated to crew proficiency, LCDR Starr
also created an extensive JO PRODEV program involving practical shipdriving, a
“speed mentoring” event, and in-depth leadership discussions, including a revival
of ALEX HALEY’s LDAC through engagement of the Chief and First Class messes onboard.
Lastly, LCDR Starr is an expert shipdriver who led the cutter through CART, TSTA,
AVCERT, and Finance and Administration inspections with superb results.
    b. Honorable Mentions for the Superior Cutterman Award (Officer) are:
        LCDR Nolan Cuevas – CGC SPENCER (WMEC 905)
        LCDR Adam Gercon – CGC RICHARD SNYDER (WPC 1127)
        LCDR Nicholas Galati – CGC POLAR STAR (WAGB 10)
7. Hopley Yeaton Superior Cutterman Award (Enlisted) – EMC Dimitri Brisker:
    a. EMC Dimitri Brisker’s is a cutterman to the core. While WAESCHE was
transiting across the Pacific Ocean, 700NM from nearest land, the cutter
experienced a major class bravo fire on one of the MDEs that rapidly climbed
8 decks and spread to the interior bulkhead of the ammunition magazine.
Displaying incredible bravery and forEsightedness as a member of the Rapid
Response Team, EMC Brisker managed initial response efforts. At great risk
to his own personal safety, EMC Brisker then led an attack team topside to
the O-3 level to combat the fire immediately adjacent to several ammunition
magazines, preventing cascading casualties from exploding ordnance. He then
cleared hot spots, overhauled damaged spaces, dewatered compartments, and
enacted makeshift repairs to restore propulsion for avoidance of a fast-approaching
tropical storm. EMC Brisker has been able to pioneer CG-wide changes, including
creation of class-wide MPC cards to address bow thruster start problems and a
class-wide JQR for the Diesel Generator. When WAESCHE also experienced a
crippling casualty to all modes of propulsion, EMC Brisker and his team also
trouble shot the MRG for 10 hours to identify and replace a faulty module
card. EMC Brisker’s list of responsibilities displays the breadth of his
devotion to the crew. He is the Command Chief, the senior EOW, a DCTT &
ETT member, Cutterman qualification program manager, and an advanced Motor
Turbine technician.
    b. Honorable Mentions for the Superior Cutterman Award (Enlisted) are:
        EMCS Theodore Compton – CGC HERBIERTO HERNANDEZ (WPC 1114)
        ET1 Michael Clements – CGC BEAR (WMEC 901)
        BM1 Jason Drexler – CGC MUNRO (WMSL 755)
8. The SNA will coordinate with OPCONs to recognize this year’s winners.
By 10 December, winners in cutter and individual categories are requested
to send a cutter image (can include entire crew) or a professional photo to
LCDR Paul Ledbetter (paul.a.ledbetter@uscg.mil) for inclusion in this year’s
SNA National Symposium. Some level of virtual winner participation will be
requested at this year’s events: https://www.navysnaevents.org/national-symposium/.
9. Bravo Zulu and great work to this year’s Hopley Yeaton Award recipients
and nominees. This year’s nominees were selected by panels consisted of 32
Active Duty and Retired Permanent cuttermen from the ranks of O8 to E7 who
collectively amassed 341 years of sea time. The sheer volume of praiseworthy
nominees, as well as the high quality award write-ups continues to impress.
Thank you to all commands for submitting and reviewing nominations.
10. VADM Scott Buschman, Deputy Commandant for Operations, sends.
11. Internet release is authorized.

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