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Navy commissions Sea Devil to escort Kitsap-area subs
Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor now houses more than just submarines.
Sailors and Coast Guardsmen gathered together June 20 at Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Keyport to celebrate the commissioning of the Coast Guard cutter Sea Devil.
The 87-foot cutter is assigned to the Coast Guard's Marine Force Protection Unit at Bangor. A Coast Guard crew of 15 man the Sea Devil, but the Navy owns the boat. The Sea Devil will escort submarines in and out of the Puget Sound safely.
Submarine escorts were not necessary until after the Sept. 11 attacks and the Coast Guard unit at Bangor is in charge of ensuring the safety of the Bangor-based submarines and their crews as they move in and out of the Sound.
"I think it's important (to protect submarines). It's now specifically one cutter assigned to the mission," said Lt. j.g. Alanna Kaltsas, the commanding officer of the Sea Devil. "There's a need for it."
The 26-year-old New York native graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in May 2005 and after a few years aboard the 378-foot Coast Guard cutter Hamilton, she decided she wanted to take charge of a boat.
"I jumped at the chance for a brand new cutter," Kaltsas said. "I chose the Sea Devil and it's just been wonderful."
Kaltsas said she was offered a few other similar cutters based on the Gulf Coast, but wanted the challenge of a brand new boat like the Sea Devil.
"I always like challenging myself and I really did this time," Kaltsas said.
The Sea Devil and its crew sailed 6,000 miles in 52 days from Florida to Washington state, including a trip through the Panama Canal. Kaltsas said the crew worked out various glitches along the way and ran on one engine for most of the stormy voyage.
"Thanks to my hardworking crew, we have made it here safely," Kaltsas said.
As a former submariner, Capt. Mark Olson, Naval Base Kitsap's commanding officer, said he is appreciative of the Coast Guard boats and crews who escort submarines in and out of Puget Sound.
"The Navy and Coast Guard have always shared bonds," Olson said. "I'm very grateful to share this moment with you at this base."
The Sea Devil tops out at 25 knots and wields two 50-caliber machine guns, various small arms and carries an inflatable boat.
"This vessel represents the best in current designs and science," said Rear Adm. John Currier, commander of the Seattle-based Thirteenth Coast Guard District.
Currier and other military officials praised the relationship between the Navy and Coast Guard during the Sea Devil's commissioning ceremony. Currier said the Navy and Coast Guard have always "worked together seamlessly" and Kaltsas said she and her Coast Guardsmen feel welcome at Naval Base Kitsap.
"The Navy has done a good job welcoming us to the base," Kaltsas said.
Anne Symonds, the wife of Rear Adm. James Symonds, commander of Navy Region Northwest, served as Sea Devil's sponsor and instructed the crew to "bring the ship to life" at the commissioning ceremony.
The Sea Devil will engage in training activities for the next month before officially being put into service. A second 87-foot cutter, the Sea Fox, will be added to the Coast Guard's Marine Force Protection Unit at Bangor next year.