Saturday, January 12, 2008

United States Coast Guard Cutter Dallas

The Post and Courier reports that “Capt. Eric Brown relinquished command of the Coast Guard Cutter Dallas on Friday to Capt. Robert Wagner in a change-of-command ceremony aboard the ship at the old Navy base in North Charleston”.

Unless you have seen USCG Dallas slipping under the Ravenel bridge heading to her berth at the old navy base you might have an idea that she’s a about the size of the Coast Guard’s Yellow Fin that is routinely used in Charleston Harbor.

But Dallas is a 378-foot high-endurance cutter and its one thing to see her in the harbor, a totally different story to be surprised by her sudden unexpected appearance 75 miles off shore.

Late one summer evening aboard Southern Comfort, as we were returning from a routine charter in the Bahamas, we heard a radio (securite) broadcast that described a night time live fire exercise that would be conducted by the USCG Cutter Dallas.

The announcement gave the latitude and longitude of a prohibited zone approximately 40 miles wide and 60 miles long and was repeated every 30 minutes. We placed the danger zone on our chart plotter and noted that Dallas would be at least 100 miles to the south as we headed north on our trip home.

Several hours later in the early hours before day break a surprising call came across the VHF radio.

"North bound motor vessel heading 360 degrees, speed 14 knots 28.77 North 78.01 degrees West - This is the United States Coast Guard Cutter Dallas".

Certian that Dallas was 100 miles south, our first reaction was to laugh at the hapless captain that had aparently crossed in to a live fire exercise.

Again the call came over the radio “North bound motor vessel heading 360 speed 14 knots 78.40 West 86.00 North”….

The second call raised our interest and then much to our sudden shock and surprise, there silhouetted in the faint light of the early dawn was the very distinctive shape of a United States warship less than a mile away and closing fast.

Southern Comfort had strayed into Dallas’ live fire zone and Dallas was not very happy.
We both reached for the microphone hoping to convince Dallas not to fire at our suddenly very small Hatteras motor yacht.

Dallas asked us to turn left and change our course to 090 (due West) and to leave the area as quickly as possible. We immediately changed our heading, made an extensive apology and increased our speed away from Dallas just to be on the safe side.

On the hour the same call we had heard through out the night again came over the radio, as we listened intently, and again we heard the same coordinates we had noted before, placing Dallas more that 100 miles to the south.

They were in live fire zone directly across or course, while broadcasting the coordinates for a live fire zone from the week before that was 100 miles away.

An hour later Dallas again called Southern Comfort to advise us the we could return to our original course and continue on to Charleston.

At the point we called Dallas to advise them of the error.

“Dallas please be advised that your securite broadcast is stating an area of operation that differs by 100 miles to the south.” There was a long long pause and then … “roger that we will advise”.
Several minutes later came…

“Motoryacht Southern Comfort this is Coast Guard Cutter Dallas, gentlemen you are correct, we have noted our error and apologize for the inconvenience we have caused you this morning. Please accept our sincerest apology. Cutter Dallas out!”

With that we both had a good laugh but we were also impressed with the way Dallas handled the situation. Professional and courteous, and when presented with their error apologizing via the VHF for the entire world to hear.

Thank you Dallas and Bravo Zulu Captain Eric Brown.

Filed under: Marina Life, Yachts Boats And Other Things That Float

1 comment:

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