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OAK Missions

A Truly Multi-Mission Cutter

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.

Maritme Mobility: Aids to Navigation (ATON)

OAK's crew hauling Lighted Buoy 7 in Puerto Rico, January 2008 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.

Maritime Safety: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Buoys

OAK 2 working to recover the drifting NOAA Buoy 40046 to attach a tow line, GANTSEC 2008CGC 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

Maritime Security: Law Enforcement (LE) and Alien Migrant Interdiction (AMIO)

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 and treaties.

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.

Petty Officer Second Class Rassmussen (BM2) standing security watch over the Cuban migrants on OAK's buoy deck, AMIO 2008 A migrant vessel, commonly known as a 'Rustica', discovered by OAK, AMIO 08

For more information about the Coast Guard law enforcement roles or the AMIO mission, see the links below:

Maritime Safety: Search and Rescue (SAR)

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.

Step 1: Pass a line to the vessel to be towed.  In this instance, a line-throwing gun is being shot from the fantail to pass line to the vessel to be towed. Step 2: The vessel being towed attaches the tow-line to the bit on the fos'cle. Step 3: Slowly pay out tow-line to increase the length of the tow.  The tow length is carefully monitored to ensure that there is not too much strain on the line. Step 4: Set up the tow watch.  The tow watch must report how the tow-line is tending and how much strain is on the line.  In this picture the line is tending at 4 o clock with moderate strain.

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.

Last Modified 10/1/2013