The medium endurance cutter Alert (WMEC-630) arrives in Portland for Rose Festival Fleet Week on June 7, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob G. Sisco)

USCG Cutter Alert Shows Its Age: 35 Breakdowns in 19 Days

A series of equipment casualties on a 49-year-old Coast Guard cutter forced an early end to its counter-narcotics patrol, underlining the needs behind the Coast Guard’s ongoing fleet recapitalization.

The Alert, one of 14 remaining 210’x34’x10’6” Reliance-class medium endurance cutters, returned to its homeport at Astoria, Ore., Friday after a 39-day deployment in the Eastern Pacific, according to Coast Guard officials. The Alert had departed Feb. 5 and almost immediately began suffering engineering malfunctions – some 35 in all, over just the first 19 days at sea.

Problems cropped up in the Alert’s radar, propulsion and fuel systems. The topper was a crankcase explosion in one of the Alco 16V-251 diesel mains, resulting from a seized oil pump. That required a week-long layover in Panama while the crew inspected the engine, and ultimately a decision to end the patrol early, said Coast Guard officials.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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