ALL EYES ON HOLLYHOCK: It's show time for ship

Port Huron-based Coast Guard cutter to be commissioned April 30, 2004

By Christy Arboscello, Free Press Staff Writer
April 30, 2004 The Detroit Free Press, reprinted by permissio
n

In the 1930s, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock began its voyage in Michigan waters, embarking on a half-century journey that took it to war and back.

Today, the Coast Guard will commission a new, larger, high-tech Hollyhock cutter in a morning ceremony with music and speeches.

At 2,000 tons and with more than 50,000 moving parts to help it navigate, "it's a little more complicated than a Chevy," Lt. Cmdr. Mike McBrady, said Thursday at a rehearsal for the commissioning.

The new ship has a 52-member crew. Older ones usually require about 30 more people, said Coast Guardsman Jim Jurczak.

"There's a lot of new stuff to learn so it makes it a little bit hard, but on the other hand, it makes it a lot easier to do your job," Jurczak said.

This is the first ship the 22-year-old Florida native has been assigned to since he joined the Coast Guard in June.

The paint is fresh. The deck is spacious. The Coast Guardsmen are in good spirits.

At the rehearsal, Coast Guardsmen who are assigned to other cutters told him the Hollyhock will be a nice place to start.

Almost every four years there's a complete cutter crew turnover, said Lt. (j.g.) Zach Ford of Grand Rapids, who is helping coordinate the Hollyhock's commissioning.

The 14th vessel in the Juniper Class, the Port Huron-based Hollyhock is the first of its class to be stationed in the Great Lakes.

The responsibilities of the Hollyhock and other ships in Juniper include breaking through 3-foot-thick ice, and picking up buoys before they get frozen in and returning them before spring so commercial boats can navigate safely. The vessel can also be used for search and rescue, maritime homeland security, law enforcement and pollution response.

This ship is an upgraded replacement to the Bramble, which the Coast Guard gave to the Port Huron Historical Society following its decommission in May 2003.

The former Hollyhock won service stars during World War II and sailed in the Korean War. The 175-foot-long ship was decommissioned in 1982. It was sunk off the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., coast in 1990 and is now a popular diving attraction.

The new cutter is expected to travel along upstate New York to Wisconsin, McBradysaid. It has navigated lakes since the Coast Guard received it Oct. 15, 2003.


CHIP SOMODEVILLA/DFP

Coast Guard Lt. (j.g.) Zach Ford of Grand Rapids displays the pennant Thursday that will be raised during today's ceremony to commission the cutter Hollyhock in Port Huron. Established by Congress in 1779, the pennant bears 16 stripes representing the states that existed at the time and 13 stars symbolizing America's original colonies.

VESSEL'S VITALS

The U.S. Coast Guard is to commission the cutter Hollyhock at 10 a.m. today at the Port Huron Seaway Terminal, 2336 Military.

The ship:

  • Cost about $29 million to build
  • Is 225 feet long
  • Is 2,000 tons

It has:

  • A 52-member crew
  • A 2,875 square-foot buoy deck
  • Two Caterpillar 3608, 3100 horsepower engines at 900 revolutions per minute
  • A 20-ton hydraulic crane with a 60-foot telescoping boom

Source: U.S. Coast Guard