Coast Guard Cutter CYPRESS is the tenth cutter of the Juniper Class of Seagoing Buoy Tenders constructed by the Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wisconsin, and the second cutter to bear the name CYPRESS. She was launched on October 27th, 2001, delivered to the Coast Guard on June 24th, 2002, and placed in Commission on October 11th, 2002. Aided by automated engineering controls and computer based navigation and communication equipment, CYPRESS is equipped to perform search and rescue, law enforcement, homeland security, pollution response, and domestic icebreaking missions, as well as fulfilling her primary mission of servicing and maintaining aids to navigation.
CYPRESS has been stationed in the Gulf of Mexico since commissioning. Her first homeport was at Sector Mobile along the Arlington Channel in Mobile, AL. CYPRESS replaced the 180’ ocean going buoy tender SWEETGUM after it was decommissioned in 2002. In 2009, excessive silting began to reduce the depth in Arlington Channel and making it impassable for CYPRESS in high wind or low tidal conditions. When CYPRESS began to lose operational days due to these conditions, a feasibility study was launched to compare three options for a new homeport: Port of Mobile, AL; Coast Guard Station Pascagoula, MS and Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL. Pensacola was ultimately chosen as CYPRESS' new homeport and she was officially moved there in 2011. CYPRESS’ main operating area stretches along 900 miles of the Gulf Coast, from Apalachicola, Florida to the Mexican Border in Brownsville, Texas, where she is responsible for the maintenance of 120 floating aids to navigation.
CYPRESS is truly a multi-mission unit that personifies the Coast Guard’s motto “Semper Paratus,” meaning Always Ready. Since her commissioning, CYPRESS has distinguished herself through exemplary performance in a wide range of operations. CYPRESS participated in historic hurricane recovery operations after the devastations of IVAN, KATRINA, RITA and ISSAC, recovering and re-establishing buoys that were up to 24 nautical miles off station and re-establishing critical Gulf Coast channels including Pensacola, Mobile, Gulfport, Pascagoula, New Orleans, Sabine, and Corpus Christi. In 2012, CYPRESS built upon this history of hurricane response and re-established several critical aids to navigation in New England following Superstorm SANDY. In 2005, CYPRESS contributed to the re-build and extension of the Galveston ship channel entrance, the portal to the busy Houston-Galveston area and used by more than 6,000 large vessels annually. In addition to routine and emergency servicing of approximately 120 federal aids to navigation, CYPRESS also assists the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) by servicing approximately twenty weather buoys throughout the Gulf of Mexico. These buoys are critical to assisting professional mariners with voyage planning as well as tracking storm formation and predicting hurricanes. CYPRESS was designed to operate as a multi-mission cutter with 60% of her resource hours dedicated to ATON and 40% dedicated to other Coast Guard missions. CYPRESS has a solid history of supporting these secondary missions, engaging in Maritime Law Enforcement patrols and conducting search and rescue (SAR). For example, in a 2015 SAR case, CYPRESS successfully rescued 3 people and saved their recreational boat, which was taking on water 100 nautical miles off the Texas Coast. In 2008, CYPRESS promptly responded to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacting the Gulf of Mexico, conducting oil recovery operations and support of the operational commander’s goals. In 2004, CYPRESS successfully recovered a sunken 38,000 pound “Blue Angel” F/A-18A Hornet from 40 feet under water in the Gulf of Mexico and has since served as the center point for the annual Blue Angels’ famed air show at Pensacola Beach, FL. In spring 2007, CYPRESS completed her first extended Alien Migration Interdiction Operations (AMIO) patrol for Coast Guard District Seven. During this patrol, CYPRESS set the standard for other cutters by successfully chasing and interdicting two go-fast smuggler vessels and seven suspected smugglers; as well as processing over 75 illegal migrants. In 2013 and 2014, CYPRESS also responded to multiple migrant interdiction cases in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2015, CYPRESS partnered with several District Eight assets to strengthen security along the Southwest Border between Texas and Mexico. The unique partnerships have worked to reduce the "lancha" threat by interdicting these high speed vessels or compelling them south of the border. Lanchas are known multiple illicit activities from illegal fishing to transport of contraband, undocumented migrants and drugs. In 2013, CYPRESS began an extended support mission for District Seven by taking on aids to navigation responsibilities throughout the Caribbean in preparation for CGC OAK's mid-life decommissioning. These duties extended CYPRESS buoy tending responsibilities to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. CYPRESS remains Semper Paratus.