CGC OAK takes great pride in being a truly multi-mission cutter, capable
of servicing aids to navigation, conducting ice-breaking operations, deploying
a spilled-oil-recovery system for pollution response, engaging in law
enforcement, and performing search and rescue.
Below is a brief description of the missions OAK most frequently performs along with links that provide additional information.
OAK's primary mission is maintaining 251 ATON along the coasts of South Carolina,
Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Guantanamo Bay, and the Virgin Islands.
Each buoy must be inspected annually or biannually to ensure that it is "watching properly", or in other words, that it is displaying proper light characteristics, that the color and number are visible, and that it is positioned at the charted coordinates. In addition, the chain is inspected for wear caused by the buoy's movement due to tides, winds, and currents.
The Coast Guard Navigation Rules handbook includes a full ATON guide. It is available from the Coast Guard Navigation Center at the link below.
OAK works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to "establish"
(place in the water), service, and recover NOAA weather buoys. These buoys are anchored in deep
water where they monitor wind speed and direction, sea state, temperature, and other marine data.
OAK serivces, on average, four NOAA buoys per year, primarily off the southeastern coast of the United States. On occasion, however, OAK will service buoys around Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean
Since 1790, the Coast Guard has served as America's principal "law of the sea"
agency. Originally established by Alexander Hamilton as the
Revenue Marine, the Coast Guard
began with the mission of enforcing import tariffs. Today, several missions fall under the
Coast Guard's Maritime Security responsibilites including: ports, waterways, and coastal
security (PWCS); drug interdiction; alien migrant interdiction; living marine resource
protection (e.g. fisheries, marine mammal protection); and enforcing applicable U.S. laws
While CGC OAK performs all aspects of Coast Guard law enforcement, the most frequent LE operations aboard OAK, are alien migrant interdiction operations. Migrants interdicted by OAK or other Coast Guard cutters are kept on the buoy deck where they are provided food, shelter, and medical treatment until they can be repatriated to their country of origin.
OAK's other recent law enforcement operations included a PWCS mission as the lead waterside security asset during the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. This higly successful, high-visibility operation allowed OAK to utilize its communications suite, law enforcement training, and icebreaking capabilities in the Potomac River.
For more information about the Coast Guard law enforcement roles or the AMIO mission, see the links below:
Search and Rescue (SAR) is one of the Coast Guard's oldest missions. Minimizing the loss of
life, injury, property damage or loss by rendering aid to persons in distress and property
in the maritime environment has always been a Coast Guard priority.
Like all Coast Guard units, CGC OAK is always ready to render assistance to vessels in distress. In January, 2008, OAK rescued a disabled sailing vessel stranded in choppy seas off the coast of St. Croix, USVI.
In many search and rescue (SAR) cases, OAK tows the distressed vessel to safety. Below you can see the steps involved in attaching a tow-line to another vessel. The pictures displayed are from a drill with another Coast Guard vessel.
The resource links on this page open in new windows and are not affiliated with the USCGC OAK Website. Some links redirect to websites of other government agencies and organizations and are not affiliated with the US Coast Guard.