The waters off the coast of Key West are “hot” for search and rescue. The Coast Guard patrols the seas 400 miles out towards Cuba. To give a glimpse into the tactics and “toys” used to secure our islands, community members piled on Cutter Knight Island this week for a memorable demonstration.
“This guy is responsible for anything that goes into an operation,” LTJG and Commanding Officer of Cutter Knight Island, Matt Moyer tells The Key West Weekly. “That includes a strategy, game plan, anything concerning an operation.”
“This guy” is BM1, or Boatswain Mate 1st Class Wesley Dugas. Dugas is at the helm of Knight Island and says his favorite operation is search and rescue.
“We’re helping people … saving lives,” BM1 is humble as he steers the 110 foot Knight Island.
At the same time, a 33 foot Coast Guard Safe Boat flies by with a 45 foot Response Boat Medium hot on it’s wake.
“The small boat,” LTJG Moyer explains, “those are the bad guys.”
The pursuit continues, so everyone on deck can observe the agility of the Coast Guard fleet. After they head back to the station, a MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter drops a dummy into the 85-degree waters. A Coast Guard rescue diver from Miami goes in after the prop.
“The training that rescue diver goes through is beyond what I can describe,” LTJG Moyer is candid about the innate skills the Coast Guard men and women develop “They go to a separate training camp and the weakest are weeded out from the group.”
In hurricane–like conditions, a helicopter can reach boaters in distress in split seconds, and arrive on the scene faster than a cutter.
“I always say”, Captain Pat DeQuattro leans over the side of the Knight Island obviously still in awe of the vast ocean himself. “Every day is different … we never know what we’re going to encounter. Our days are never dull.”
With that, he’s off to cut the cake.
The Coast Guard traces its founding to Aug. 4, 1790, when the first Congress authorized the construction of 10 vessels to enforce tariff and trade laws, prevent smuggling, and protect the collection of federal revenue. Responsibilities added over the years included humanitarian duties such as aiding mariners in distress. The service received its present name in 1915 when the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to form a single maritime service dedicated to the safety of life at sea and enforcing the nation’s maritime laws.
BM1 Wesley Douglas checks the waters ahead onboard the 110 Cutter Knight Island. He commands a crew of between 17 and 18 Coast Guard men and women cruising from our coast up to 400 miles.
Some Crew members of the Knight Island from Right to Left, Chief William Klein, LTJG Joseph Haynsworth, Fireman Apperntice Stephen Cantu, MK3 Ricky Gutierrez, and EM1 Michael Malbrough.
Captain Pat DeQuattro
“Every day is different,” Captian Pat DeQuattro looks over the starboard side, gazing at the Sunset Celebration during the demonstration celebration to mark the Coast Guard’s 219th birthday.