SAN FRANCISCO - Friday's Fleet Week Parade of Ships included three Navy combat ships and three Coast Guard vessels that sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge into the Bay as thousands watched from the shoreline.
As Fleet Week's Parade of Ships entered the Bay, KTVU was invited along to enter with the crew and families of one of its own; the 418-foot-long Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, homeported at Alameda's Coast Guard Island.
Long before there was a bridge, there was a Golden Gate. The first naval ship entered the Bay in 1775. For the next 247 years, naval vessels and Coast Guard ships would go in and out of this Bay to protect, to deter and to even fight war.
The Waesche is one of eleven multirole National Security Cutters, named after the Coast Guard's World War Two Commandant and its first full Admiral. This fast ship can zip along at, at least 32 miles an hour with a range of almost 14,000, more than halfway around the world.
In fact, it is the Swiss Army Knife of ships.
"It does most of the missions in the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has 11 statutory missions, and we do, probably, easily over half of those missions," said Capt. Robert Mohr, commander of USCG Cutter Waesche.
Its many missions include search and rescue port, waterway, and coastal security, counterterrorism, environmental protection, disaster relief, fisheries protection, law enforcement and drug interdiction. With its highly computerized weaponry and support systems, it can also operate as part of the Navy's fleets in a major war.
But, the heart and soul of the ship, is its highly trained and practiced crew of 120 men and women trained who can do any of these many specialty missions on command. All have an eye on the future whether they remain Coasties or pursue civilian careers.
"My future is right now. So, if I have sure my presence is an ongoing progress, constant progress, I'm making sure my future is well," said crew member fireman Jose Rodriguez.
"It’s under DOD/Homeland Security and it's a great gateway for expanded horizons," said fireman Ruben Mendoza, another crew member
"There's so many opportunities, for example, the GI Bill, Skills Bridge and so many jobs are waiting to hire veterans," said crew member Diego Gonzales.
All of them, said they see a bright future in or out of the service.
"I'm looking at both options, but I am definitely leaning towards staying in and I've loved it. I love every moment of it," said Petty Officer Chara French.
Each ship has its own story and this one is open for boarding Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.