PORT TOWNSEND — Crew members of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Osprey want to say “thank you” to the community in a special way.
On Thursday, the Fourth of July, the crew will show their appreciation with an “open boat,” their version of an open house.
The family-friendly event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will offer food and refreshments and the chance to get to know the crew, learn what they do and hear some sea stories.
The Osprey is located at the Coast Guard installation at the end of Benedict Street in the Boat Haven.
“We want to open the boat up to ‘their’ Coast Guard,” said Michael Jennings, master chief petty officer in charge. “We couldn’t have picked a better day than the Fourth of July.
“We’re doing it for community outreach,” Jennings said. “But at the same time it’s a sincere thank you to the community that helped us through the government shutdown and a huge thank you for everything everybody did for us.”
The most recent shutdown began Dec. 22 last year and ended 35 days later on Jan. 25. It was the longest government shutdown in American history and impacted the 11 enlisted men and women stationed in Port Townsend.
“The community collected food cards and brought in food to the unit,” Jennings said. “The local food banks opened their doors to us as well. The American Legion served us dinner.
“The food cards really helped out because they could be used for baby food, diapers and medicine.
“We were taken care of by the community, we really were,” he said.
Thursday’s events will include tours of the Osprey, static displays and rescue equipment demonstrations. The Coast Guard Auxiliary will be on hand to explain vessel inspections and how a pre-inspection will allow your boat to get a decal.
One of the Osprey’s operations is to enforce recreational boating regulations.
“When we see that decal on your boat out on the water, we won’t do the full inspection,” Jennings said. “We just go through the checklist of things like life jackets and flares.”
Jennings said the 87-foot Coast Guard cutter’s mission includes search and rescue, marine environmental response, and enforcement of laws and treaties in the Pacific Northwest.
“Our normal operational area is all of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands,” he said. “We patrol offshore all the way to the California-Oregon border. We do fisheries work down in the Columbia River. Last summer we took a seven-week patrol up to Southeast Alaska.”
“Basically we do all Coast Guard missions with the exception of ice breaking or international ice patrol,” Jennings said.
The Osprey hull number is 87307 and it was the seventh boat built in its class. All boats in the Marine Protector Class are named after protected marine mammals or birds. The namesake osprey is also known as the sea hawk, a name that was chosen when the boat was assigned to the Seattle region in 1999.
Jennings said he hopes the community will stop by and say hello, see the vessel and meet the crew.
“We are your local military, the only Coast Guard asset here,” Jennings said. “Indian Island can’t open its gates, but we can.”
Jefferson County Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].