|Way more than Just Search and Rescue!|
|Just be outside during Fleetweek|
|Size doesn't matter in this case.|
|From the Aft deck of the Mellon where we boarded looking at the Stern of The Essex.|
|25 mm Cannon|
|Looks like a big ship from here. 378' long and a beam of 42'|
|The bridge looked like a smaller version of the big ships we toured.|
|4 Red Phones, who gets the call?|
|76 mm Canon|
|They always talk about the length of the Anchor chain, and how many pounds each link of chain weighs, but when you ask if they have ever anchored the answer is always No, notice no rust on the anchor chain.|
|The Starboard pass through from the forward deck to the aft deck.|
|Here they come again|
|They fly as close as 18 inches apart.|
USCG Mellon WHEC 717 at Seafair
WHEC stands for High Endurance Cutter.which means they can stay at sea a long time, they have a 14,000 Km range carrying just over 203,000 gallons of fuel. Since Seattle is the homeport we often see the Mellon arriving or departing Elliot Bay so it was very cool to tour this vessel.
These Coast Guard sailors were the most relaxed crew of the three American ships we toured. Besides the more common Search and Rescue missions these guys do the Policing of the fisherman in Alaska and drug interdiction along the Latin American coast. With the updated weapon systems aboard they can certainly manage Homeland security issues as well. After 9-11 "the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created through the integration of all or part of 22 different federal departments and agencies into a unified, integrated Department" Check out http://www.dhs.gov/who-joined-dhs. It is very common to see the Small Coast Guard RIB's escorting the Washington State Ferries and or escorting ships through Puget Sound.
The "Coasties" were more chatty and they allowed the fun side of their job to come through on the tour of the Mellon as they sometimes confessed to the practical jokes they played against each other on board.they had the same proud manner as they described the various tools on board the Mellon and certainly the professionalism. but at the same time they smiled and had fun with their assignment. Three totally different experiences on three completely different types of ships. I am sure there are many reasons for the differences but every vessel has it's own spirit, it's own traditions and definitely the seriousness of it's mission. Then there is the CO setting the tone and expectations of his or her crew. Just having the opportunity to sail with many different people in either a day sail, a weekend cruise to somewhere, or racing, each skipper that I have crewed with is different in how they relate to and manage their crew. Participating in achieving a goal in a team environment always has the human side, not every skipper can be the best one and not all the crew the most competent and committed. Commanding any of these Military ships is a huge responsibility where even a small mistake can have big consequences. The men and women we met take on this challenge fearlessly and proudly.
Surely other ports offer opportunities for the average citizen to tour these military ships. This is the first time that we have been in the right place at the right time. Since Fleetweek is a annual event you could plan to visit Seattle during the summer to take advantage Or perhaps you could check out the other Homeports at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/ships/lists/homeport.asp and look for opportunities there,