USCGC Fir (WLB-213)
"The Keeper of the Sound"
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Fir's primary mission is to service and maintain 132 aids to navigation around the Gulf of Alaska. The buoys USCGC Fir maintains are essential to commercial vessel traffic in major shipping ports of the Prince William Sound such as Valdez, Cordova, as well as across the Gulf of Alaska in Yakutat.
Several times per year, the USCGC Fir deploys jointly with members of the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to deploy and service weather buoys in the Pacific Ocean. Coastal weather buoys are critical for accurate weather forecasting, and greatly benefit both the commercial shipping and fishing industries along the Northwest coast.
Like all Coast Guard cutters, the USCGC Fir does more than just one mission. The USCGC Fir spends approximately one month per year engaged in fisheries law enforcement off Gulf Alaska and Bering Sea.
The Coast Guard Cutter FIR (WLB-213) is named after one of the original lighthouse tenders built for the Lighthouse Service to resupply lighthouses and lightships, and to service buoys. FIR (WAGL/WLM 212) was built by the Moore Dry dock Company in Oakland, California in 1939. On March 22nd, the new Lighthouse Tender FIR was launched. She was steam driven with twin-propellers, 175 feet in length, had a beam of 32 feet, drew 11 feet, 3 inches of water, and displaced 885 tons of water. The cost to build FIR was approximately $390,000. FIR's homeport was Seattle, Washington for all but one of her fifty one years of service when she was temporarily assigned to Long Beach, California when WALNUT was decommissioned in 1982.
Constructed by Manitowoc Company, Inc. in Marinette, Wisconsin. Fir was launched on August 18, 2003, and after sailing over 9400 nm to Astoria, OR and was commissioned November 8, 2003. The FIR was re-homeported in Cordova, AK in October 2019.