February 02, 2006

By Jessica Chapman
The Kaselehlie Press

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel stopped in Chuuk and Pohnpei recently for a routine visit. The Sequoia, a 225-foot Coast Guard cutter, arrived in Chuuk on January 11, 2006 and continued on to Pohnpei on January 13, 2006.

The Sequoia is a multi-purpose buoy tender and was in the FSM on an operational cruise from its homeport of Apra Harbor, Guam. The ship inspected and services channel markers, navigational aids, and buoys. The ship's crew also conducted professional exchanges with their Micronesian counterparts in the FSM National Police Maritime Wing, Chuuk Port Authority, and Pohnpei Port Authority.

Officers also participated in Island Chief Planning Conference activities in Pohnpei.Commanding Officer LCDR J.F. Neumann and Executive Officer LT D.W. Gray paid courtesy calls on ChuukGovernor Wesley Simina and Pohnpei Governor Johnny David.

Crew members, many of them Micronesian, spent Wednesday, January 18 visiting local schools in Pohnpei, sharing their experiences and acquainting students with Coast Guard career possibilities. One officer and seven enlisted men from the cutter, including Boatswain's Mate Second Class Alfred Albert, of Pohnpei, (who has been a Coast Guardsman since 2000) visited schools in both Chuuk and Pohnpei during their visits.

Coast Guardsmen met with more than 1,000 students and guidance counselors from Chuuk High School, Xavier High School, Pohnpei Island's Central School, Pohnpei SDA School, Calvary Christian Academy, and two campuses of the College of Micronesia-FSM. PICS High School seniors listened reverently to animated descriptions of international travel and financial rewards available to enlistees. Albert, originally of Madolenihmw, introduced himself to thunderous applause."It's a good way to go in and get some experience and come back home," said Will Thomas, of Palau, the Sequoia's chief engineer.Although not framed as a recruiting event, the crew passed out Coast Guard literature and contact information and encouraged students to consider a military career should it suit them."It's another good venue for you guys when you get out of high school," said Thomas. FSM citizens are eligible to join the U.S. military under provisions of the country's Compact of Free Association with the United States.

The Sequoia's official duties include ocean buoy maintenance, search and rescue operations and enforcement of U.S. environmental, marine, immigration and drug laws.Operating out of Guam, the ship's surveillance territory covers greater Micronesia, including CNMI, Palau and the Marshall Islands as well as the FSM.The guardsmen enjoyed two days of liberty in Chuuk and three days in Pohnpei. Tours of the ship were also provided in each port to those who were interested.

Planned joint exercises with an FSM Maritime Wing patrol boat were cancelled due to weather. The Sequoia has a crew of 51, consisting of seven officers and 44 enlistees. The Sequoia departed Pohnpei Friday, Jan. 20, headed for Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands.The U.S. Coast Guard is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.