Top photo: The Fir between YB Jetties.
Bottom photo: The Fir foredeck with one buoy just removed and replacement ready to be deployed.
Buoy Tender Fir is visiting Yaquina Bay
Information provided by Wayne Hoffman
Photos by Carol V Cole (Click photos to enlarge)
A stout black-hulled ship that keeps our offshore buoys ship-shape is visiting Newport. It is the US Coast Guard Buoy Tender “Fir,” the 13th of 16 Juniper Class tenders brought into service around the US. The Fir is based in Astoria and is responsible for maintenance of Aids To Navigation on the Oregon and Washington coasts, including the Columbia River and Puget Sound. Midday, the Fir worked between the Yaquina Bay jetties, and in the evening anchored northeast of the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
The Fir, like other Juniper Class buoy tenders, is 225’ long with a 46’ beam and 13’ draft, and displaces 2,000 tons. She is equipped with a crane on the bow for deploying and retrieving buoys and their anchors, with a 10-ton capacity and a 42’ boom. Buoys designate a safe route out to sea, and a safe route into port as long as sailors stay between the buoys. If they stay between the buoys they don’t run aground, which happens on occasion for those who don’t pay attention to the buoys.
The Fir was commissioned in 2003 after construction in Marinette, Wisconsin. To aid in her mission she is equipped with electric bow and stern thrusters, giving her superior maneuverability in the tight quarters, for example for retrieving buoys that have drug anchor into shallows or near reefs. She also carries a Dynamic Positioning System which is a computer system providing automatic corrections to her engine and thrusters to maintain position in rough seas.