A Ketchikan-based buoy tender’s crew won the inter-vessel competition during the Coast Guard’s annual Buoy Tender Roundup.
The roundup is an annual event to make sure crews aboard the relatively small vessels have access to training and resources they need, and is accompanied by competition between ships in matters both physical and culinary.
“We’re pretty proud of the crew,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chris Boss, commanding officer of the USCGC Anthony Petit, 2021’s winning vessel for the Juneau event. “We look forward to this experience with the crew and the camaraderie with the other cutters.”
The roundup includes physical competitions in five different events, as well as cook-offs and a judging of the condition of the vessel, said Lt. Stephanie Alvarez, who organized the event as part of District 17’s Aids to Navigation project office. It’s the first roundup since the pandemic canceled the 2020’s.
“It shows their training, a test of their seamanship, building teamwork and camaraderie,” Alvarez said in an interview. “Training is the primary purpose [of the roundup].”
The buoy tenders are small vessels which have crews of between 25 and 50, Alvarez said, and might not have the personnel to conduct specialized training. By bringing all the buoy tenders available in, they can efficiently knock out annual training requirements for multiple crews. While this year’s turnup was smaller than usual, Alvarez said, it’s still good to have any contact at all.
“It makes it so much easier when you can meet people face to face,” Alvarez said. “I think we’ve all learned about that this last year.”
A detachment of Army divers doing training and engineering work, including inspecting the Coast Guard vessels, also participated alongside members of the buoy tenders Anthony Petit, Elm and Kukui.
“It’s great to work with these guys,” said Army Cpl. Stephen Olinger, an engineer diver. “Every ship is against the Army, but at the end of the day, it’s the same team. The camaraderie, the competition, it’s the same in the Army and the Coast Guard.”
The physical competitions spanned five events: the boom spot, the chain drag, the cutter swim, the heat and beat, the line toss and the tug of war. The boom spot involves a spotter helping a crane operator on a buoy tender navigate a bucket of water suspended from the crane around the buoy deck, spilling as little as possible. The chain drag involves four members of a team pulling a length of chain weighing 1,750 pounds down the parking lot and arranging it neatly.
“I loved the chain pull,” Olinger said. “I love learning other stuff. And the hype behind the competitions.”
The cutter swim involves swimming from a boat to the pier in survival suits. The heat and beat involves heating and hammering chain pins.
“I look forward to the wardroom heat and beat every year,” Boss said. “There’s some pretty big competition out there.”
The line toss involves three members of a team throwing a rescue line to a dummy yards away with the fewest tosses. And the tug of war is a straightforward competition with 10 servicemembers to a side.
“[My favorite is] the tug of war,” Alvarez said. “People get so into it! And it’s not too technical.”
As the ships depart Juneau, the crew of the Anthony Petit will return home to celebrate.
“We’ll celebrate in fine Ketchikan fashion for sure. We’ll all be celebrating,” Boss said. “We might have been the smaller [ship] but we were the mightier.”