COOS BAY -- Members of the Coast Guard Cutter ORCAS crew took a number of folks out on a cruise around the bay on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

The evening trip was in recognition of the Coast Guard's annual celebration of Coast Guard Sea Service.

Coast Guardsman watch for other ships in the fog Oct. 18 aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Orcas as it approaches the Coos Bay Swing Span Bri…

Many on board were Coast Guard members from Station Charleston or Sector North Bend.

“We thought it would be great to commemorate Coast Guard Sea Service by inviting our Coast Guard friends from the aviation side that don’t always get a chance to see what we do on the surface when they’re flying around,” ORCAS Commanding Officer Lt. Steve Roth said.

Roth said he really enjoys discussing the differences between how missions are carried out with the folks from Sector North Bend.

“Having people understand the nature of what the ship does versus the helicopters because our mission is a little different,” Roth said.

The ORCAS Cutter is based out of Coos Bay and is responsible for fisheries law enforcement from the California boarder to the Canadian border.

“We do search and rescue, but we also are the law enforcement and safety piece," Roth said. "Our goal is to go out and make sure that fishermen have the gear they need to stay safe.  So that ideally we don’t have to come back and get them in an emergency, they have what they need."

SN Taylor Nobel, left, and SN Derek Dear navigate Oct. 18 as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Orcas begins a tour of Coos Bay.

Last year this cruise around the bay was canceled because of a rescue mission. A cruise is done annually in recognition of sea service, but traditionally it has only been for Coast Guard families. This year folks from the community were invited aboard.

“It’s tough for us get an opportunity to do something like this," Roth said. "We were able to carve out the time, so we said this year let's invite everyone, and the weather paid off."

State and local partners of the Coast Guard including the Oregon State Police, North Bend Fire Department and Coos Bay Police Department among others.

“We have a great working relationship with the Coast Guard, this is a nice opportunity,” North Bend Fire Chief Mark Meaker said.

North Bend Police chief Robert Kappelman also was on the tour supporting Coast Guard members and their service to the Bay Area.

“I think it’s pretty special that our local is served by such an incredible fleet of equipment, that’s operated by an even more incredible group of people. I’m pretty thankful for that as a police chief and as a citizen,” Kappelman said.

Hats hang in a stairwell to the galley Wednesday aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Orcas during a tour for families and other law enforcement…

ORCAS was built in 1974, and due to its age, it is difficult to find parts when repairs are necessary. So the Coast Guard has slated the cutter to be decommissioned in 2021.

“Our area will then be covered by the Coast Guard's new fast response cutter… They have a little bit better ability in heavier seas, and greater speed and range in rough weather based on their size,” Roth said.

According to Roth once the cutter is decommissioned our area will be covered by ships based in Astoria.

Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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