The 154-foot Sentinel-class cutters replace the 1980s-era 110-foot Island-class patrol boats
U.S. Coast Guard
The Sentinel-class fast response cutter is a new Coast Guard patrol boat that is capable of deploying independently to conduct missions that include port, waterways and coastal security; fishery patrols; search and rescue; and national defense. Named after Coast Guard enlisted heroes, the cutters are replacing the aging Island-class 110-foot patrol boats. The U.S. Coast Guard has selected Astoria as the new home for two fast response cutters by 2021, a decision that will expand the agency s footprint in the Columbia-Pacific region and provide a significant financial boost to the Lower Columbia River area. The 154-foot Sentinel-class cutters each costing $73 million replace the 1980s-era 110-foot Island-class patrol boats, which are nearing the end of service life.
Each of the new cutters will require two officers and 20 crew. Upon stationing a new Sentinel-class cutter in Ketchikan, Alaska, earlier this month, Coast Guard Adm. Charles D. Michel said, At 154 feet, the Fast Response Cutter has incredible improvements over its predecessor. The longer length makes for a more stable platform to conduct operations from launching small boats in heavy seas to remaining at sea for longer periods of time.
This new cutter is also capable of going farther increasing operational range from 1,853 nautical miles to 2,500 nautical miles. As a result, Alaska will see a 19 percent increase in patrol boat operations. The Fast Response Cutter also achieves speeds of nearly 30 knots for longer periods of time, besting the cutter it is replacing.
Paraphrasing the ship s commanding officer, the ship can go farther than before and get there faster than before. Astoria had been competing with Newport for the two new cutters.
The Coast Guard has been looking at the 17th Street Dock or Tongue Point for the new cutters, but an official said a decision has not been made on where in the city the cutters will homeport. The new cutters have not been named, according to the Coast Guard, but others in the class have been named for enlisted personnel who distinguished themselves. The Coast Guard said a 110-foot Island-class patrol boat, the Orcas, will continue to operate in Coos Bay until the new cutters arrive in Astoria in 2021.
The Coast Guard s Sector Columbia River headquarters and Air Station Astoria are based at the Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton. Astoria is also home to the Coast Guard s 210-foot medium endurance cutters Steadfast and Alert, and the 180-foot buoy tender Fir, but does not have one of the Island-class patrol boats.
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THE DISTRICT14-year sentence for robbery of couple
A D.C. Superior Court judge sentenced a 52-year-old District man to 14 years in prison Friday for the May 2016 robbery of a senior couple in Northwest Washington. Milton Hood was found guilty in January of robbery and assault. Prosecutors said Hood attacked the victims, an 81-year-old man and his 75-year-old wife, as they were walking along 23rd Street NW between P and Q streets. Hood knocked the man to the ground and took his wallet.
The woman, fearing for her husband s life, hit the assailant on the head and neck with her cane. Hood turned and hit her, knocking her head to the ground, prosecutors said. He then tried to steal her purse, but she held on to it. When drivers stopped to help the couple, the assailant ran. Hood was found two hours later, and a DNA swab from the victim s cane matched his. In addition to his prison term, Judge Kimberley S. Knowles is requiring Hood be placed on three years of supervised release, officials said.
Navy member dies in car crash
A 34-year-old man died after his 2015 Dodge Charger crashed in Upper Marlboro, officials said. Jonathan Javoria Griffin was driving the car just after midnight Friday along the southbound side of Route 301 near Village Drive when it crashed. Griffin was pronounced dead on the scene. Some roads in the area were closed for several hours, as crews were on the scene. Maryland State Police said Griffin was a member of the Navy who was assigned to Fort Meade s National Security Agency.
Five days later, College Park fire extinguished
Officials on Friday officially declared the massive five-alarm fire that consumed a College Park apartment building extinguished. The pronouncement came five days after the fire broke out Monday at the building under construction in the 4700 block of Berwyn House Road.
Firefighters had been monitoring the rubble for flare-ups every day since the initial response by more than 200 firefighters from across the region, said Prince George s County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady. The fire caused nearly $40 million in damage, the most the county fire department has recorded in its history. Investigators have initially ruled the fire accidental, but are still working to determine its cause and origin, Brady said.
Manhunt for inmate who fled at psychiatric hospital
A man who guards were unloading Friday from a prison van in the parking lot of Maryland s maximum-security psychiatric hospital had maneuvered his way out of handcuffs and a waistchain before fleeing into woods, police said. Authorities discharged K-9s, helicopters and teams of law enforcement in the hunt for David M. Watson, 28.
Watson is charged with attempted murder involving police officers in Wicomico County and was on his way to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center near Jessup for an evaluation in his case, said Sherry Llewellyn, a spokeswoman for Howard County Police, which is leading the search. Online court records in Maryland show Watson was found incompetent to stand trial in 2014. After the van arrived in the lot at about 9:40 a.m., a guard opened the vehicle door and Watson pushed the guard to the ground, Llewellyn said. Watson then ran into woods, Llewellyn said, where investigators found some items of clothing he may have discarded. Watson was serving a 100-year sentence for attempted murder in Delaware, where Wicomico County deputies had picked him up for transport to Perkins, Llewellyn said.
SKOWHEGAN A new security guard at the Somerset County courthouse and a new dispatcher at the communications center have added to what otherwise is a flat-funded budget for the coming year, officials said Friday. The county Budget Committee gave its blessing Thursday night to a spending package for the coming year of $12,340,408, up 1.6 percent from the budget approved by county commissioners at this time last year. The final figure includes a 1 percent overlay for unexpected shortfalls in property tax revenue, bringing the total to $12,534,097.
Somerset County sheriff’s Deputy Mike Cray sits at his new work station as a security officer in the Somerset County Courthouse in Skowhegan. Cray, of Palmyra, started his new duties April 1. Somerset County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi said things were getting “more and more volatile” in courthouses across the state. Staff photo by Doug Harlow
The budget breaks down like this:
$4,863,215 for operations at the Somerset County Jail.
$2,188,978 for debt service on the construction of the jail.
$5,372,614 for general county spending. The tax rate charged to county towns is $2.43 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, spread across all of the towns and plantations in Somerset County.
Patrick Dolan, the county finance manager, said the overall increase of $202,689 includes adding labor and benefits for an additional dispatcher at the Somerset County Regional Communications Center in Skowhegan and a security position at the county building, which includes Superior Court, the district attorney s office, probate offices, administrative offices and the Registry of Deeds.
We ve had more and more security instances at the courthouse threatening calls and visits related to the probate court, Dolan said. Unfortunately, it is a public building, so we have anybody and everybody just walking into the building. Somerset County Deputy Mike Cray, of Palmyra, who came out of retirement, took over April 1 as the security guard at the courthouse. He sits at a desk in the corridor at the entrance to the building on High Street and has all visitors, including lawyers handling criminal cases upstairs in court, sign in on a clipboard sheet. The doors to the building at the top of the granite steps across from the old jail on Court Street no longer are in use. Somerset County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi said she is happy with the proposed budget, having run a bare-bones spending program for the past few years. She said the new dispatcher fills a gap in service for emergency calls and the security guard is a welcome addition to the courthouse.
We needed it down here, she said of having a security guard for problems at the probate and district attorney offices. The sheriff kept blowing his overtime budget by having to send a man down here.
DiBlasi said Somerset s was one of the few courthouses left in Maine without a courthouse security guard. Meanwhile, she said, things are getting more and more volatile in courthouses across the state. She said people have wandered into her office from the district attorney s office, often angry about the results of decisions or proceedings in court.
It s been difficult for me to get them out of here, she said. The cost of the building security officer, including equipment and benefits, is $92,671; but the state is contributing $14,185, so the final number is $78,484, DiBlasi said. She said the guard is also on duty when the judge is present and court is in session. As for the dispatcher, the communications center was taking so many calls from both Somerset and Kennebec counties, that a 15th one, including two supervisors, was needed. Only three dispatchers were on call for any shift taking in about 225 calls a day.
We were concerned that somebody s 911 call may not get through. What are you going to do when you ve got three guys on the phone and somebody s trying to get through? DiBlasi said. So for safety reasons, we thought it made sense, based on the statistics, the ratio of calls to people and the amount of calls.
The cost of the position is about $66,000, including wages and benefits. The county budget meeting and public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 16 in Superior Court on the second floor of the county building. The county commissioners will meet after the hearing. If commissioners agree with the Budget Committee s budget, they will vote it in as the final budget. If they disagree, the package with commissioners changes goes back to the Budget Committee for a final vote. If the Budget Committee cannot muster a two-thirds majority to put its approved budget into effect for the new fiscal year, the commissioners budget takes effect on July 1.
Doug Harlow 612-2367