Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” filmed a segment onboard the buoy tender U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Aspen (WLB 206) and called the work performed by that crew the dirtiest he’d ever experienced.
That dirty but vital job is being performed in Guantanamo Bay this week by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Willow (WLB 202). The Charleston, South Carolina-based cutter is at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, May 8-14, to ensure the Bay could continue to be navigated safely and accurately. USCGC Willow’s dirty work here involved servicing the Bay’s buoys by ensuring their moorage and anchor chains were in good repair and in the proper location, fixing any electrical and electronic devices on the buoys, removing rust and marine growth from the aids and painting the multi-ton objects to deter rust and improve visibility.
Servicing aids to navigation, like buoys and day markers, is one of the core missions of the U.S. Coast Guard. They took this task on in 1939 when the U.S. Lighthouse Service merged with the Coast Guard. An armed Lighthouse tender, Suwanee, was one of the ships blockading the Cuban coast during the Spanish American War, and provided gunfire support to the US Marines fighting their way ashore at Guantanamo Bay in June 1898.