Coast Guard
Sends a New High-Tech Whiz to Hawaii

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (1/17/98)
By Ray Pendleton

If you were down around Honolulu Harbor in the last week, you might have noticed the new ship moored at the Coast Guard Station on Sand Island. She is the Cutter Kukui - the Coast Guard's newest buoy tender and one of the most advanced vessels afloat.

This Kukui is not the first Coast Guard vessel to have been named after Hawaii's state tree. The first was another buoy tender that worked in Hawai`i and Pacific waters from 1908 to 1946, and the second was a cargo ship that ferried supplies to loran navigation stations throughout the Pacific region from 1947 to 1972.

Kukui is designated as a buoy tender, but maintaining those signposts of the sea will be just one her many assignments. Her duties will also include law enforcement, search and rescue, national defense, and marine environmental protection.

Although her hull is painted black, and she has the distinctive orange, white and blue bow stripes like previous Coast Guard buoy tenders, that is just about where the similarity ends.

Kukui dwarfs her predecessors. Her length is 225 feet, her beam is 46 feet and she displaces over 2,000 ton. Her two 3,100 horsepower Caterpillar diesel engines give her a maximum operating speed in excess of 17 knots, and an operating range of 6,000 miles at 12 knots.

As the third ship of new class of sea-going buoy tenders being commissioned by the Coast Guard, Kukui has what is known as an Integrated Ship Control System which coordinates her radar, satellite navigation system, and computer-generated charts with her controllable pitch propeller, rudder, and bow and stern thrusters. Operating on its own, it can maintain the ship's position on the open sea, within less than a 20-foot circle.

To facilitate some of her environmental protection assignments, Kukui is equipped with a Shipboard Oil Recovery System, which uses advanced technology to skim oil off the ocean surface.

Kukui was officially commissioned by the Coast Guard at a ceremony on Sand Island on January 9 - you may have heard the roar of the 21-gun salute - but she has already proven herself seaworthy by making a remarkable passage from her builder's shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin.

She was launched by the Marinette Marine Corporation on the Menominee River, near Green Bay, last May, and was delivered to the Coast Guard in October. Within days, Kukui was on her way through Lake Huron and Lake Erie, bound for Cleveland where she went through her Ready for Sea Certification.

Once the certification was completed, she finished her passage of the Saint Lawrence Seaway - 18 locks and a drop of 600 feet in all - and finally reached the environment she was designed for, the ocean.

Her maiden voyage would eventually take 67 days, cover 10,280 nautical miles, and pass through all five Great Lakes, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Panama Canal.

Kukui arrived in Honolulu on the morning of December 19. It is hoped she will be here to protect and serve our maritime community for many decades to come.

Aloha Kukui! Hawaii's sailors and boaters welcome you and wish you fair weather and many safe passages.

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