The Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark welcomes Juneau aboard

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark, commissioned in 2009, hosted free public tours in Juneau on Saturday.
Looking up at the bridge/Jasz Garrett

Above: The Reef Shark’s crest will soon be replaced with an addition that sports the Northern Lights instead. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)

The community made their way to Don D. Statter Harbor this weekend to meet the crew and have a turn to sit in the driver’s seat.

Lieutenant junior grade Kane Alletzhauser, captain of the Reef Shark, explained what missions the crew performs.

“Primarily search and rescue. That’s our first and foremost. Living marine resources, so, enforcing fisheries laws, federal fisheries laws, and then also ports, waterways, security, that type of thing,” he shared. “Those are like three primary day-to-day. But like I said, we’ll respond to just about everything that sector or district calls us to do.”

With only 12 people in their crew, the Reef Shark relies on technology for smooth sailings.

“We rely on a lot newer tech, and we still do fall back on the older stuff like the sound-powered phones. That newer technology really helps us reduce the size of the watch. On older, larger platforms, you would be hard-pressed to find a two-person watch,” he said.

On the 87-foot platform patrol boat, the watch size shrinks because of the tech. The smaller bridge also helps the crew to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

Old radios and maps used for traditional charting are seen on the bridge on Saturday. Although they have the newer tech, crew members still need to know how to use the older methods. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)

Given that the Reef Shark’s area of responsibility is so big, roughly the size of Florida, they often go four to five days without pulling in for fuel or water. To put that into perspective, Alletzhauser said that most other 87-footers go three days before refueling.

“We only have three hundred gallons of water on board. We only have 2,800 gallons of fuel on board. If you’re strategic about it, you can stretch it, or if you can pull into a place that lets you top off on fuel and water like Hoonah or Petersburg, it helps extend that patrol,” he said. “So, we might have a patrol that’s only four or five days long. But our patrol period can be longer. We just have to every so often come in and top off on food, fuel, and water.”

Alletzhauser has been in Juneau for about 15 months after coming up from Puerto Rico. Two summers ago, the Reef Shark took a 6,500 nautical journey through the Panama Canal to Southeast Alaska to replace the Liberty, which is now homeported in Valdez. The Reef Shark is the northernmost 87 in the fleet.

The Reef Shark has two main engines, four cylinders, and one turbo. It can reach about 26 to 28 knots. Alletzhauser said that compared to the 64-year-old platform he was on, they doubled their speed.

“I just came off a 210-foot medium Endurance Cutter down in Florida. Completely different mission set. So different geography, different areas, different mission,” he said. “But I would say with a patrol boat, like I said, they’re smaller patrols, but they’re still more frequent. Whereas if you’re on a larger platform, you’d be going out for, you know, two and a half, three months, but you’d be in for two months. Here, it’s every couple weeks we’re going out, every couple weeks you’re pulling in.”

What Alletzhauser likes about Southeast is also reflected in his close-quartered crew — a sense of community.

“Really in Southeast Alaska in general, just seeing how tight-knit the community is. I’m not a local, obviously I move around quite a bit as well as most people in the Coast Guard do. But seeing how tight-knit the community is and how everybody knows, pretty much everybody, it’s a cool feeling,” he said. “That’s something that I really appreciate and like about Southeast Alaska. It’s definitely like a reason to come back.”

Lt. j.g. Kane Alletzhauser, Reef Shark commanding officer, stands on Statter Harbor’s pier Saturday after providing tours. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)
The Reef Shark’s bell is seen inside the bridge with a view of the harbor outside. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)