US Coast Guard’s Reliance-class cutter Alert was forced to return to its homeport in Astoria, Oregon, after experiencing 35 equipment casualties within the first 19 days of the patrol.
The 49-year-old ship departed Astoria February 5 for a counternarcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific but was forced to abort without undertaking any operations.
Alert experienced malfunctions in the ship’s radar, propulsion and fuel systems.
The ship’s main diesel engine also suffered a crankcase explosion, resulting from a seized bearing on an oil pump, which caused a week-long delay in Panama while the crew inspected the engine. Following the inspection, a decision was made to end the patrol.
“We left on patrol with great hopes and a crew at top performance, thoroughly trained and operationally tested, but one of our main engines broke, sending us home before we got into any operations, which was very disappointing for everyone,” said Cmdr. Tobias Reid, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Alert.
“Our engineers did an outstanding job responding to the casualty and put a huge amount of effort into repairing the engine on station, but it requires an extensive overhaul that can only be completed at home.”
The Alert was commissioned in 1969 and is one of 14 remaining 210-foot Reliance-class medium endurance cutters in the Coast Guard’s fleet. Alert is one of three 210-foot cutters stationed on the West Coast – two in Oregon and one in Washington. The cutter supports counter-smuggling missions throughout the Pacific Ocean from the U.S.-Canada border to South America.
The Coast Guard’s fleet of medium endurance cutters is in the process of being replaced by the offshore patrol cutter beginning in fiscal year 2021.