Riders on The Storm – Patrolling and protecting the seas

Sunset in Bodega Harbor, Bodega Bay, Calif. Photo by Seaman Josh Pilg

Sunset in Bodega Harbor, Bodega Bay, Calif. Photo by Seaman Josh Pilg

Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Painter 

Coast Guard units throughout the country are “located” within the communities they serve.  Nowhere is that more true than on Doran Beach State Park in Bodega Bay, Calif.  Because of its location, the Coast Guard Cutter Sockeye is what some in the service call a “hidden gem.”

Homeported in the small coastal fishing town best known for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film “The Birds,” Sockeye’s crew navigates the frequently rough seas of the coastal Pacific, performing the Coast Guard  mission, and fulfilling the ship’s motto: “Riders on the Storm.”

Sockeye’s area of responsibility stretches from Mendocino County to the north and Point Sur to the south, out to 200 nautical miles offshore.  This expansive area includes the busy San Francisco Bay and the Port of Oakland, patrolled by an enlisted crew of 12, and consisting of boatswain’s mates, machinery technicians, a food service specialist and a mix of seamen and firemen.

Sockeye's boarding teams enforcing federal laws and regulations at sea. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Painter

Sockeye’s boarding teams enforcing federal laws and regulations at sea. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Painter

With such a small crew and numerous duties, the crew must work together and consistently train to learn the jobs of their shipmates.  Proficiency in law enforcement, damage control, shipboard navigation, operation of machinery, deck seamanship evolutions, and smallboat operation are just the basic competencies the crews of patrol boats possess.  Lesser known but equally important proficiencies include defense readiness and radiation detection within the maritime environment.

Sockeye is truly a multi-mission platform, capable of performing most of the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions.  The crew focuses heavily on domestic fisheries law enforcement, ports waterways and coastal security and search and rescue within its area of responsibility.

“We recently helped enforce regulations associated with the commercial and recreational salmon fishery in federal waters,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Painter, the Sockeye’s executive petty officer.

Crew of CGC Sockeye. (L to R): BMCM Gregory Teagle, FN Kyle Hoof, SN Josh Pilg, MK3 Bryan Russell, MK2 Adam Crowley, FS2 Robert Stous, BM1 Joe Wozniak, BM1 Danny McCorkle, SN Eric Rhodes, SN Adam Delano, BM1 Andrew Painter. Photo by ENG2 Carl Pacheco

Crew of CGC Sockeye. (L to R): BMCM Gregory Teagle, FN Kyle Hoof, SN Josh Pilg, MK3 Bryan Russell, MK2 Adam Crowley, FS2 Robert Stous, BM1 Joe Wozniak, BM1 Danny McCorkle, SN Eric Rhodes, SN Adam Delano, BM1 Andrew Painter. Photo by ENG2 Carl Pacheco

The crew worked closely with officers from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement.  A Sockeye boarding team prosecuted a case involving a commercial fishing vessel that was illegally using barbed hooks to troll for salmon.

Enforcing the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act is just one of the crew’s mission, and one of significant importance to the American people; helping to ensure the sustainability of U.S. fisheries.

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