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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage Awarded Rear Admiral Bennett ‘Bud’ Sparks Award

Throughout the year, Sector Anchorage reserve personnel focused on competencies and qualifications to deliver on readiness requirements.

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage awarded the 2021 Rear Adm. Bennett “Bud” Sparks award for the under 100 reservist assigned category.

The award is presented annually by the Reserve Organization of America to recognize a unit determined to be the most supportive of an operationally ready Coast Guard Reserve Force as demonstrated by its practical use and support.

“It’s an incredible honor for Sector Anchorage to be selected for the Bud Sparks Award,” said Capt. Leanne Lusk, commander, Sector Anchorage. “Our Reserve members are incredibly dedicated. They work very hard to maintain their competencies and earn new qualifications and naturally integrate into our teams. They are the reason we’re able to accomplish our unique multi-mission responsibilities throughout the Arctic, Western Alaska, and Southcentral Alaska.”

In 2021, 83 percent (25 members) of reserve billets were filled with 52 percent (13 members) living outside of reasonable commuting distance and 20 percent (five members) dependent on air travel to reach duty stations. Throughout the year, Sector Anchorage reserve personnel focused on competencies and qualifications to deliver on readiness requirements while also providing critical augmentation support, serving Coast Guard missions both within and outside Alaska.

Sector Enforcement reservists conducted 384 hours of law enforcement training and 46 operational boardings, resulting in the qualification and/or recertification of three boarding officers while maintaining 100 percent readiness, and drove a multi-agency operation with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Park Service, and Alaska Wildlife Troopers. Sector marine science technicians augmented the active-duty force supporting 47 days of pollution responder/facility inspector duty to backfill for deployment of active-duty members conducting more than 300 commercial fishing vessel exams and 50 facility inspections. Additionally, one reserve petty officer completed 120 days of active duty for operational support (ADOS) in support of the annual Marine Safety Task Force (MSTF).

“I personally enjoy integrating into active duty to support Sector Anchorage and its missions,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Lucas Ellis, a reserve marine science technician. “Participating in the Sector Anchorage’s Marine Safety Task Force (MSTF) missions allows me to stay more proficient in my rate, and it gives me a better opportunity to get to know the active-duty members. The training and experience I gain while on active-duty orders has really boosted my professional development in the Coast Guard and is, at the same time, relevant to my civilian job with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. I also feel that my years of experience and active participation with MSTF make me a more valuable asset to Sector Anchorage.”

Sector reserve personnel made significant contributions to operations during deployment activities with four members deploying for 764 days combined. A petty officer from Sector Enforcement took orders to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in support of a Type 1 Community Vaccination Center facilitating more than 5,000 doses per day, totaling more than 250,000 vaccinations. Additionally, a petty officer from Station Valdez volunteered to support Marine Safety Unit Valdez in order to fill a vital staffing gap. Despite an out of rate mobilization, she quickly qualified as a vessel traffic specialist and vessel traffic watch supervisor overseeing the safe transit of 518 vessel movement reporting system users, including 118 tankers transporting 87,099,655 barrels of oil and ensuring the safety and security of Prince William Sound.

Additionally, all three of Sector Anchorage’s reserve yeomen volunteered to augment active-duty personnel in support of Sector Admin and Arctic Shield MSTF. In this capacity, reservists created orders, processed travel claims, arranged logistics, and performed budget tracking duties for the Coast Guard’s entire 2021 Arctic Shield MSTF effort, completing 212 sets of orders and obligating a total of $668,000 in travel funds. By recovering tax exempt expenditures, finding alternate lodging and travel solutions, and pursuing refunds after cancelled activities due to changing operational needs, reserve yeomen reduced actual travel claim reimbursements below funds obligated saving the Coast Guard over $86,000. This work enabled Sector Anchorage to conduct facility inspections at 180 remote villages.

Sector Anchorage’s team consists of 278 personnel, 26 of which are reservists, executing missions in an area of responsibility covering 90 percent of Alaska’s coastline and 4,000 miles of navigable rivers. It includes Dutch Harbor along the Aleutian Islands, a prominent hallmark in a $5 billion-dollar fishing industry, the North Pacific Great Circle route traversed by 8,000 deep draft vessels annually, 210 federally recognized Alaska Native tribes, the Trans Alaska Pipeline, and maritime boundaries with Canada and Russia.

Based on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, Sector Anchorage is the Coast Guard’s largest sector in terms of geographic area, exercising authority in a jurisdiction extending throughout Western Alaska, the North Slope and the Aleutian Islands through Prince William Sound. Sector Anchorage has several subordinate units which include Marine Safety Unit Valdez, three Marine Safety Detachments, three Island Class Patrol Boats, Station Valdez, and an Aids to Navigation Team in Kodiak. Sector Anchorage’s missions include, but are not limited to, Search and Rescue, pollution prevention & response, waterways management, port security, and vessel inspections and investigations.

Read more at USCG

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