The Blackhull Coast Guard cutter Elm and crew returned to homeport after completing a second successful month-long patrol to service aids to navigation (ATON) in California in support of the 11th Coast Guard District.
The cutter’s standard area of operations occur along the coast of the Pacific Northwest and rarely ventures south of Oregon.
Elm assumed the responsibilities of Coast Guard cutter Aspen’s 76 aids that span the entire 840-mile California coastline. Aspen, a seagoing buoy tender that services the 11th District, departed California in December 2021 for a 14-month major maintenance overhaul in Baltimore.
The additional workload in California, 131 aids in the Pacific Northwest, made Elm the Coast Guard’s only operational seagoing buoy tender on the West Coast. Cutter Elm previously conducted an ATON patrol to California in April and May 2022, where the crew serviced 19 of Aspen’s buoys in 19 days ensuring the proper operation of the highest priority aids to navigation off the California coast.
Elm departed Astoria, Ore., Oct. 2, and over the course of 18 days, the crew serviced 27 buoys, conducted four buoy hull reliefs, worked over 19,000' of chain and had a total of 1.7 million lbs. of ATON hardware and equipment cross the buoy deck.
Additionally, Elm participated at San Francisco Fleet Week 2022. Upon arrival in San Francisco Bay, the cutter deployed five buoys to form a security zone for the four-day Navy Blue Angels air show, providing both the pilots and aircraft a clear area to perform while also ensuring the safety of the boating public watching the air show.
Elm retrieved all security zone buoys immediately after the air shows concluded, quickly reopening the waters of the bay to all recreational and commercial activities.