One of our readers sent me an article from the Alaska Beacon about the need for additional housing for the military that includes some insight into the Coast Guard’s future in Alaska.
The information about the Coast Guard is toward the end of the article. This seems to be confirmation that the two FRCs in Ketchikan will be joined by four more, two in Kodiak and one each in Sitka and Seward, and that their additional supporting infrastructure is being provided.
We already knew the third and fourth OPCs, Ingham (917) and Rush (918), will be going to Kodiak.
What About USCGC Alex Haley?:
The Alex Haley is currently homeported in Kodiak. When I saw that two OPCs were to be homeported in Kodiak, my first assumption was that they would replace the Haley as well as USCGC Douglas Munro also based there, but perhaps that assumption was unwarranted.
Alex Haley is nominally a medium endurance cutter, but with a 10,000 nautical mile range and a 3,484 tons full load displacement, she is more of a high endurance cutter with the crew of a 270 foot WMEC.
She is an old ship, having been originally commissioned in 1971, but still younger than any of the 210 and considerably more capable. She is well suited to the Alaskan environment, so I don’t see her being moved outside the 17th District (Alaska). She is simple, meaning she is relatively easy to maintain, but with twin shafts and four engines, she also has redundancy.
She was extensively renovated, and her engines replaced before she was recommissioned into the Coast Guard in 1999, more than eight years after the last 270 was commissioned.
The second OPC to be based in Kodiak probably will not arrive before 2028. The last 210 will probably not be decommissioned until about 2033.
If the intention is to ultimately have three OPCs in Kodiak, as I believe may be the case, there is a good possibility that the Haley could hang on until that ship arrives.
What about Nome?:
There is also mention of the planned port expansion in Nome with a suggestion that the Coast Guard may have units there.
One tight spot may be Nome, where there are plans to expand the city port into a deepwater, Arctic-service port which Moore called a “fantastic opportunity” for Coast Guard operations.
I don’t think we will see either large patrol cutters (unless it is the Alex Haley) or FRCs based there, but moving one of the Juniper class seagoing buoy tenders there, with its light icebreaking capability might make sense. I suppose a medium icebreaker might be a possibility, but that is a very long shot.
There will probably be a seasonal air detachment stationed in Nome.
Thanks to Paul for bringing this to my attention.
Nome will either be the tip of the spear, our far right flank in the Pacific, or both.
“Barrack Barges”! Barrack Barges could be towed up to Nome or evem fabricated there in component sections as the weather permits! An APL-61 type Barrack Barge can house, feed, and maintain up to 611 personnel each (74 officers and 537 enlisted)…
Those are intended for temporary housing of unaccompanied personnel. Don’t think we will have nearly that many people in Nome. Some of them will probably be permanently assigned and may have families.
It would be at the very least a starting point for anyone billeted in Nome to live! Whittier, Alaska’s entire town population of ~273 live in one 14-story tall building built by the US Army…
They are going to need more pier space at Kodiak along with support facilities for those OPCs.
Think that is already in the works.