Channelling the Blacktip

Story provided by Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Konopa, crewmember of the Coast Guard Cutter Blacktip

Being located within the Channel Islands area of responsibility presents many unique opportunities and challenges for the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Blacktip. Just about anything can happen once the lines are cast off the pier and the Cutter makes her way out into the open ocean. During the last few months the crew of the Blacktip has been faced with a wide spectrum of challenges and has met the call every time for an action packed summer.

A fire burns aboard a 24-foot white center console fishing vessel off the coast of Santa Barbara, California.

A fire burns aboard a 24-foot white center console fishing vessel off the coast of Santa Barbara, California.

While on routine patrol in the vicinity of Santa Cruz Island July 18, 2014, the Blacktip crew overheard an unusually clear Mayday call. Immediately recognizing that the vessel had to be nearby, the crew took action. After replying to the vessel over the radio, the crew of the Blacktip gathered valuable information regarding the distress call. The distressed vessel was a 24-foot white center console-fishing vessel that had caught on fire. The fire started in the battery compartment and quickly spread throughout the vessel.

The Blacktip crew arrived on scene, and launched the cutter’s small boat to disembark the distressed persons from a good Samaritan vessel, which made initial recovery. The cutter’s smallboat crew immediately rendered first aid to the survivors. Although the fishing vessel could not be recovered, the survivors were grateful for the Blacktip crew’s swift response and assistance.

In addition to search and rescue, the crew of Blacktip conducted law enforcement operations and was even able to participate in an event to remember a fallen lifeguard.

Crewmembers of the Coast Guard Cutter Blacktip transport survivors of a boat fire.

Crewmembers of the Coast Guard Cutter Blacktip transport survivors of a boat fire.

Blacktip crew had the distinct honor of contributing to the memorial of a fallen Newport Beach lifeguard, which took place at Newport Beach July 13, 2014. The crew of the Blacktip provided a safety zone for the “paddle-out,” a marine event to honor the fallen lifeguard, and also had several crewmembers personally “paddle-out” as part of the memorial.

“Participating in the event was a humble reminder of the potential dangers associated with working in the often times unforgiving maritime environment,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Konopa.

In addition to such exciting times underway, Blacktip was also showcased on season six of the TV show “Rizzoli and Isles” and was the centerpiece at Oxnard Maritime Museum for the Coast Guard Art Exhibit opening, which celebrated both the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s birthdays.

Whether it’s conducting search and rescue operations, keeping waterways safe, or showcasing the Coast Guard in a film, the Blacktip’s crewmembers remain Semper Paratus, willing and ready to respond to any assigned mission, no matter where it may take them.

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