USCG Kiska Returns Home After Eight-Day Fisheries Patrol
The United States Coast Guard Cutter Kiska, homeported in Hilo, has returned to port after spending eight days navigating about 1,450 miles of sea for resources patrol.
Crew members endured “challenging” marine conditions as a result of poor weather in the patrol area, including seas of over 10 feet and 23 to 25 mile per hour wind speeds.
During the operation, the Kiska crew conducted fisheries boardings and completed crew qualifications. A total of 126 hours were spent enforcing fisheries laws, which include boardings on two occasion about 300 miles from the Hawaiian Islands. Neither boarding resulted in fisheries violations, but the crew did find concerns aboard one of the vessels that resulted in coordination with Customs and Border Protection.
“I believe the living marine resources mission is critical because as Coast Guardsmen, we are responsible for keeping those on the water safe and protecting the wildlife within,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Devan Wieczorek, a boatswain’s mate aboard Kiska.
In 2014, Pacific fisheries accounted for 6.9 million pounds of the total combined landings in the U.S., according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. The total was worth $2.5 million.
While at sea, Kiska crew members conducted training operations to qualify various crew members. Five deck seamen were qualified through line handling and small boat evolutions, one davit operator to manage the ship’s on board crane during small boat evolutions, one quartermaster of the watch, two small boat crewmen, one boarding team member, and two in port officer of the deck crewman.
“Prior to our fishery patrol, the Executive Officer, Lieutenant. j.g. Stephen Atwell, made it a point to train new and existing crewmembers in shipboard damage control, navigation, man overboard and various other trainings,” said Lieutenant Kevin Trujillo, commanding officer of the Kiska. “He prepared us for anything because when you conduct operations 200 plus miles offshore you better be ready. If something bad happens, there is no one around to help you.”
In addition to Damage Control drills, the crew conducted extensive small boat launch and recovery evolutions to ensure the crew was ready to launch the small boat in an extreme sea state.
“Our training paid off when we were 250 miles offshore and the weather took a turn for the worse while the small boat was underway en route to a fishing vessel,” said Trujillo. “The winds picked up out of nowhere and we ended up calling off the boarding because the boarding team was unable to embark the vessel. The fishing vessel was rolling approximately 20 to 30 degrees making it impossible for the boarding team to embark safely. When it came to recovering our small boat, everyone had to be on their ‘A-game.’ Eight-foot seas, heavy winds, and a short wave period is not an environment to train in. It’s an environment you put your most highly trained people on the lines to get that small boat and the crew back safely. All in all, the patrol was a success.”
The Kiska is one of four patrol boats in the state and one of two 110-foot Island Class patrol boats. It is also the only patrol boat that is home-ported on a neighbor island.