USCG Cutter Cypress Arrives in Alaska, Replaces Cutter SPAR

Coast Guard Cutter Cypress
Coast Guard Cutter Cypress
The Coast Guard Cutter Cypress deck department stands on the buoy deck while the vessel transits to the ship’s new homeport in Kodiak, Alaska on Oct. 19, 2021. The Cypress will be responsible for servicing aids throughout Kodiak Island and the Aleutian chain. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Amanda Harris.

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Cypress (WLB 210) arrived in Kodiak on Dec. 5, 2021, after transiting from the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Cypress crew transited over 7,600 nautical miles south along the East Coast through the Caribbean and Panama Canal, and north along the West Coast through the Alaskan Inside Passage to her new homeport at Coast Guard Base Kodiak. The crew began preparing the Cypress for her maiden voyage to Alaska in August and will be returning to Kodiak after four months away from home.

During her 34 day transit, the Cypress crew made port calls in Mayport, Florida, Key West, Florida, Long Beach, California and Ketchikan, Alaska. The Cypress crew used the long transit time to conduct damage control training, small boat training, engineering and navigation drills, and worked to build watch proficiency leading to 63 individual qualifications, according to the USCG.

The Cypress will be filling the role of the “Aleutian Keeper” vessel, replacing the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR as the 225-foot Juniper Class Buoy Tender and will be responsible for servicing aids throughout Kodiak Island and the Aleutian chain. SPAR departed Kodiak in January 2021 and is being re-homeported in Duluth, Minnesota.

Cypress, a Juniper-class seagoing buoy tender, is outfitted with technological and navigational capabilities that allow her to be positioned for exact placement of buoys through the use of controllable-pitch propellers and stern and bow thrusters.

Commissioned in 2001, she was previously stationed in Mobile, Alabama, and subsequently re-homeported to Pensacola, Florida, as the “Strong Arm of the Gulf,” servicing aids to navigation along 900 miles of coastline, stretching from Apalachicola, Florida, to the border of Mexico. The Cypress crew aided in hurricane recovery operations after Ivan, Katrina, and Rita, recovering and re-establishing buoys that hurricanes had moved up to 24 miles off station.

USCGC Cypress
USCGC Cypress (WLB-210) is a United States Coast Guard cutter and the 10th Juniper-class seagoing buoy tender. Photo courtesy of Steve Harwood.

In 2004, the Cypress crew successfully recovered a sunken 38,000 lb. “Blue Angels” F/A-18A Hornet from 40 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico after a training accident. The Cypress crew had served thereafter as the center point for the annual Blue Angels’ air show at Pensacola Beach until her arrival at the Coast Guard Yard for MMA in August of 2020.

In 2010, the Cypress crew responded to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacting the Gulf of Mexico, conducting oil recovery operations with specialized oil recovery equipment alongside sister ships Juniper, Walnut, Sycamore, Aspen, Oak and Elm, together recovering over 500,000 gallons of spilled oil and coordinating environmental cleanup activities between numerous federal, state, local and private entities.