New Coast Guard cutter to be commissioned Wednesday in Juneau

The U.S Coast Guard will honor the legacy of a man it says performed heroically near the turn of the 20th century. The Alaska-based Bailey Barco fast-response cutter will be commissioned Wednesday in a closed ceremony at the AJ Dock off Thane Road in Juneau.

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The Coast Guard Cutter Bailey Barco pulls into its homeport of Ketchikan on May 12, 2017. The vessel and its crew completed a journey of 7,130 miles to reach Alaska from Key West, Florida. (Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard)

On Dec. 21, 1900, the schooner Jennie Hall ran aground during a severe winter storm near Virginia Beach, Virginia, according to a Coast Guard blog post.

Stationkeeper Bailey T. Barco was stationed at the Dam Neck life-saving station and took command at the scene to rescue the survivors from the frigid water.

Life-saving stations and stationkeepers were the precursor to the present-day Coast Guard.

Barco was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal on Oct. 7, 1901.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard will commission the cutter Bailey Barco, a 154-foot vessel. It will be the second of six Sentinel-class cutters that will homeport in Alaska.

The ship will join the cutter John McCormick at Coast Guard Station Ketchikan, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Shawn Eggert said. It will be the 17th District’s second fast-response cutter.

“They are capable of independent operation for about five days conducting all their missions in the environmental conditions that are natural to Alaska,” Eggert said. “You know, the very rough seas, the weather that they would encounter here.”

The Bailey Barco will patrol the coast and features advanced equipment, including the ability to launch and recover standardized small boats from its stern. Sentinel-class cutters are lightly armed patrol vessels capable of traveling almost 3,000 nautical miles.

The cutter was manufactured by Bollinger Shipyards of Lockport, Louisiana. In a news release, Bollinger said the Bailey Barco is the 22nd ship in its $1.5 billion contract for 32 fast-response cutters it’s building.

The Barco’s commanding officer Lt. Frank Reed will attend the commissioning with other Coast Guard officials, including the ship’s sponsor, Barco’s great-granddaughter Carol Lash Push.

“It goes without saying that the crew of the Bailey Barco is continuing that legacy that the man himself, that Bailey Barco himself, that life-saving legacy,” Eggert said.

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