Attempts to save the Storis, once the longest-serving cutter in the U.S. Coast Guard, have failed and the ship will be stripped and sold for scrap metal -- unless a last-ditch effort is successful.
The Coast Guard Cutter Storis is a 230' WWII-era Coast Guard Cutter that served 64 years of active service from 1942-2007. The Storis was towed Oct. 25 from California and headed to Mexico, where is will be scrapped.
Fans of the historic cutter are hoping an environmental issue can save the vessel from being cut up for scrap. KMXT-radio reports historic preservations contend PCBs on the ship should keep it from being sent to Mexico.
PCBs were used in electrical systems, paint and heat shield applications but were banned in 1979 because of their toxicity and link to cancer. Marine historian Jon Ottman says the report used to clear the vessel for export may not have accounted for all PCBs on board.
The ship was built in 1942 and served during World War II. After the war, the Storis patrolled Alaska waters, and called both Juneau and Kodiak home. In 1957, she was the first U.S. flag-vessel to circumnavigate the North American Continent.
During her lifetime, she provided assistance to more than 100,000 people living in remote areas. Over her long and illustrious career, the USCGC Storis earned a total of 47 Unit Awards including a Presidential Unit Citation, the WWII Victory Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and eight Arctic Service Medals.
According to www.thecutterstoris.info, an unofficial tribute website for Storis, her nicknames included: "Queen of the Fleet", "Galloping Ghost of the Alaskan Coast", "Bulldog of the Bering" and "Sore-Us."
The Storis was decommissioned in 2007 and was auctioned by the General Service Administration last summer.
A nonprofit organization called Storis Museum attempted to save the ship from the scrapyard and turn it into a museum in either Juneau or where it was built, Toledo, Ohio.
"It's a sad day for all of us who worked all over the United States, people were working to save the Storis. Unfortunately a lot of history and a great museum potential will be lost here," said Joe Geldhof, a Juneau attorney and secretary for the group.
He said the organization doesn't fault the businessmen who bought the ship but does say the General Service Administration "botched the disposal. They didn't give nonprofits the opportunity to select the Storis before it was put on the scrap market."
He said the organization will take its remaining funds to memorialize the ship and the crew members who served, likely with high-quality, museum grade models of the ship in Kodiak and possibly Juneau.
"We didn't save the ship, but we're working now to try to remember everybody who served on it and memorialize, to the extent we can, a wonderful ship that served the United States and the Coast Guard and the citizens of our country well," Geldhof said.
Visit http://www.thecutterstoris.info to learn more and share your experiences of the Storis.