The other day we started to thinking about a ship we see so often off Sausalito, the familiar Coast Guard Cutter, so we set out to do a little research.
It turns out that the familiar cutter is really four different ships with the same design. You have to read the numbers off the bow to tell which is which.
Tonight we’re looking out at the Coast Guard Cutter Sockeye, shown in the photo above by PA1 Alan Haraf escorting a Russian tall ship during a procession in 2005.
The Sockeye is based in Bodega Bay and routinely is assigned anywhere from Mendocino County down to Big Sur, and up to 200 miles out to sea.
Most often we’ve seen the Coast Guard Cutter Tern, based at Yerba Buena Island in San Francisco Bay but covering the same range as the Sockeye. Both are 87′ long Marine Protector Class vessels with 19′ beams and twin diesel engines. Both were built in Louisiana in 2001-02.
Berthed alongside the Tern is the Coast Guard Cutter Pike, also based at Yerba Buena Island and the same type of 87-foot vessel.
The final option, the Coast Guard Cutter Hawksbill, is based in Monterey but covers the same range as the other three vessels and turns up in San Francisco Bay regularly. The same ship model, it was built in 1998.
So now if someone asks you about the Coast Guard Cutter in the Bay, turn to them confidently and say, “It’s the Tern!”
“Or maybe the Pike or the Sockeye…”
“Or it could be the Hawksbill…”
Wait, I’ll get the binoculars.