The United States Coast Guard Cutter ALERT is the last 210-foot medium endurance cutter to have been constructed. The keel was laid on January 5, 1968 at the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland, and she was commissioned on Coast Guard Day, August 4, 1969. ALERT derives her name from the early 19th century sailing ship ALERT, which served in the Revenue Cutter Service under George Washington. ALERT has a long and distinguished record of Coast Guard service. Prior to being assigned to her present homeport of Astoria, Oregon, she was stationed at the Coast Guard Recruit Training Center in Cape May, New Jersey. She conducted fisheries conservation patrols in the North Atlantic as well as alien migration interdiction and drug enforcement operations in the Caribbean.
In January of 1993, ALERT returned to her birthplace at Curtis Bay for refurbishments. These improvements include modernization of living and working quarters for the crew, installation of updated electronics systems, and redesign of major engineering and damage control spaces. The most visible alteration was the addition of the vertical exhaust stack just aft of the bridge. This replaced the horizontal stack system, which exited through the stern of the vessel.
In March 2009, ALERT returned once more to Curtis Bay to complete additional modernization projects within the living and working spaces for the crew, installed a new refrigeration plant, installed new air conditioning equipment and duct work, and completed the installation of new shaft tubes.
ALERT has a designed endurance of approximately 60 days and a cruising range of 5,000 miles at a speed of 15 knots. Direct pilothouse control of her two 2,500 horsepower engines, together with variable pitch twin screws, allows for great control and maneuverability. ALERT carries two small boats that are used for boardings and search and rescue while on the high seas as well as inport. She can also accommodate a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin, which offers increased effectiveness as a search and rescue and law enforcement asset.
ALERT calls Astoria, Oregon her home when she is not underway. Her berth is shared with USCGC STEADFAST (WMEC 623) and is next to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, one of the finest maritime museums on the West Coast. Astoria was the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific Coast, established in 1811. It is located near the historic site of Fort Clatsop, the winter settlement for the Lewis and Clark Expedition during the winter of 1805-1806. Known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific", the ocean, river, and Columbia River bar can combine to create a world-class hazard to navigation. ALERT transits across the bar at the beginning and end of every deployment. ALERT's crew takes advantage of this idyllic setting by exploring the area from the Astoria Column to downtown Portland, the beaches along the Oregon coast, as well as nearby Mount Saint Helens.