Replacement boat for CG-44392



 From papers from the official U.S. Coast Guard report into the gounding of the MLB CG-44392.


CG-44392 was heavily damaged as a result of her grounding on 6 January 1975. The boat has been recovered and an informal Board convened to inquire into the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. A preliminary examination disclosed that the entire hull below the waterline must be replaced. The initial estimated cost of repairs, if the vessel is in fact repairable, is about $175,000. Accomplishment of such repairs would require a minimum of six months and might necessitate shipping the vessel back to the Coast Guard Yard.


The Juneau marine community, consisting primarily of Auke Bay to the north and Juneau-Douglas to the south, is divided by Gastineau Channel, which is virtually impassable except under ideal conditions of weather and tide. In good weather a WPB requires approximately three hours to travel around Douglas Island from Juneau to Auke Bay. When the WPB is in CHARLIE status, another vessel must be capable of fulfilling the SAR responsibilities and providing crew protection.


Winds and seas in Lynn Canal near Auke Bay and Taku Inlet, south of Juneau, frequently exceed forty knots and twelve feet respectively. Fifty to sixty knot winds and seas over twenty feet high are experienced with some regularity during the winter months. The often-marked barometric differential between Whitehorse and Southeast Alaska develops katabatic winds which move cold arctic air from the Canadian interior downward over the coastal mountains and through the numerous passes and fjords to the various inner-channels of Southeast Alaska. These winds often appear suddenly and produce a mixture of lulls and violent gusts, often in excess of 100 knots. Such winds result in heavy seas and atomize the crests of waves, forming misty clouds which sometimes exceed twenty feet in height. Severe icing often accompanies these conditions in the winter.


The survival of eight people, including two infants, in the incident attests to the seaworthiness of the vessel. Although heavily damaged, CG-44392 preserved the lives of those people in spite of winds to 60 knots, seas to 20 feet, and zero degree temperatures. It is extremely doubtful if anyone would have survived in any lesser a boat.


The new 411 UTB is not as capable a boat as the 443 MLB and should not be considered as a replacement boat in an area which regularly experiences severe winds, seas, and icing. The 41-footer will be a good replacement for the 40-footer at Ketchikan where a WPB is readily available when the situation dictates. It is recommended that the 41328 scheduled for Ketchikan in February not be directed to Juneau.


Plans to move the MLB to Juneau and moor the WPB at Auke Bay were being formulated when this incident occurred and will be covered in a forthcoming planning proposal, delineating our long term search and rescue requirements for the Juneau area. However, the WPB-MLB combination remains the foundation of our search and rescue response capability in Juneau and our immediate requirement for a 44 MLB will not be altered by that proposal. I feel that our urgent need justifies the immediate assignment to Juneau of a replacement 44 MLB and request that action be taken to effect the transfer.


My thanks go to the U.S. Coast Guard for allowing me to use these papers on my site.