Rear Admiral Michael McAllister, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 17th District, speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rear Admiral Michael McAllister, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 17th District, speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Admiral: Juneau in running to host new Coast Guard cutter

The head of the U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska said Thursday that Alaska’s capital may host a new cutter.

Rear Adm. Michael McAllister told the Juneau Chamber of Commerce that Juneau is in the running to become a host city for a new Fast Response Cutter.

“Juneau is one of the ports we’re looking for for potential Fast Response Cutters,” he told attendees of the weekly Chamber luncheon at the Moose Lodge.

The Coast Guard has previously said it will deploy six Fast Response Cutters, known as FRCs, in Alaska. Two have already arrived here, including the Bailey Barco, which was commissioned in Juneau last month.

The FRCs are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s Island-class cutters. One of those ships, the Liberty, is already homeported in Juneau.

Bruce Abel, a Chamber luncheon attendee, asked McAllister whether Juneau could do anything to increase the odds that a new ship might be stationed here.

“Juneau is already in the mix of those (places) being considered,” McAllister said.

He added that he isn’t sure Juneau needs to do anything to be considered, and that the Coast Guard is looking at a variety of factors as it considers home ports.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to a number of factors. Cost is certainly one of them, cost to produce pier facilities and shoreside facilities,” he said.

An FRC has 19 shoreside personnel for support, and if the Coast Guard can station two of them in the same place, that makes shoreside work more efficient, he said.

He added that the Coast Guard will also consider housing availability, childcare costs and medical care costs.

Arctic cruisers

McAllister’s presentation to the Chamber Thursday included an update on Arctic activity as observed by the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard buoy tender Maple, homeported in Sitka, is in Nome, en route to a trip through the Northwest Passage. The Maple, which is not an icebreaker (but does have an ice-strengthened hull), is expected to be escorted by a Canadian icebreaker during its voyage.

One of the key questions for the Coast Guard, McAllister said, is whether the agency can ensure safety for civilian ships in the Arctic.

The cruise ship Crystal Serenity, which carries 1,600 passengers and crew, is scheduled to sail from Anchorage to New York City through the Northwest Passage between Aug. 15 and Sept. 16. The ship took a similar trip last summer.

“The question is: Will this continue in the future? What other cruise lines will be able to do this in the future?” he said to the Chamber crowd. “We’re going to find out next summer, because we think there’s going to be a new entrant into this particular market.”

Marijuana missions

City and Borough of Juneau Assembly member Jerry Nankervis asked McAllister whether the Coast Guard is looking for marijuana at sea in Alaska waters.

“It’s against federal law,” McAllister responded, but “this is not the type of environment where we’re going out and hunting for marijuana in a state where it’s legal to be used.”

A Coast Guard boarding crew “might hand you a ticket or summons” if it finds marijuana on your boat, but District 17 personnel “don’t go out searching for that type of thing.”

“It’s not a priority of mine to go out and hunt that down,” McAllister said.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson (left) answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies.

(Getty Images)
Alaska Republicans head to the polls Tuesday with Trump, Haley and Ramaswamy on the ballot

On Super Tuesday, March 5, Alaska Republicans will join their counterparts in… Continue reading

Rep. Kevin McCabe, R-Big Lake, speaks March 20, 2023, on the floor of the Alaska House. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Proposal to define a fetus as a person in Alaska’s criminal code faces pushback

Opponents testified that the bill would threaten Alaskans’ abortion rights

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks Monday, May 8, 2023, on the floor of the Alaska House. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House approves bigger merit scholarship for in-state high school students

The Alaska House of Representatives voted on Monday without opposition to raise… Continue reading

A mountain biker takes advantage of a trail at Eaglecrest Ski Area during the summer of 2022. The city-owned resort is planning to vastly expand its summer activities with a new gondola and the facilities by 2026. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)
Eaglecrest’s big summertime plans, including the gondola, get OK from planning commission

Ski area also planning new summit lodge, snowtubing park, bike trails and picnic pavilion by 2026.

Spruce Root was invited by the U.S. Forest Service to help roll out the Tongass National Forest Plan Revision process. (Photo by Bethany Goodrich)
Resilient Peoples and Place: Stronger Together in 2024 — A letter from the Sustainable Southeast Partnership

Founded in 2012, the Sustainable Southeast Partnership (SSP) is an Indigenous values-led… Continue reading

Students, parents and teachers rally outside Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé prior to a school board meeting Tuesday, seeking a change in the board’s decision to consolidate Juneau’s two high schools beginning with the next school year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Layoffs and larger classes planned along with consolidation at local schools, but BSA increase would help

District leaders not counting on funds approved by Legislature, due to veto threat by governor.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, Feb. 26, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read