As part of an in-port maintenance period this week, the Homer-based Coast Guard Cutter Hickory conducted a top-end overhaul of the port-side main propulsion engine for the first time since the cutter was commissioned in 2003.
The crew of the Hickory took advantage of scheduled maintenance time this month to complete various engineering repairs and top-side preservation projects. Completing this work will ready the cutter’s equipment for scheduled decommissioning of seasonal aids to navigation, which occurs every autumn.
The top-end overhaul is part of the required maintenance for the two 3,100 horsepower engines, which log thousands of hours of continuous operation while the cutter services buoys and shore aids to navigation throughout Alaska waterways, from Cook Inlet to the Kuskokwim River. The crew also completed a top-end overhaul of its starboard engine in March.
“A top-end overhaul is an inspection of all the engine’s major components and replacement of several key engine parts,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Biggs, a machinery technician aboard the Hickory. “This includes cleaning the engine’s cylinder heads, rebuilding the turbocharger and replacing the engine’s raw water and jacket water pumps.”
Maintenance like the top-end overhaul is critical to the safe operation and performance of the engine and usually takes two or three weeks to complete.
“Statistics show that engine casualties and critical failures begin to increase around the 17,000 hour mark,” said Chief Warrant Officer Michael Kimberlin, the engineer officer aboard Hickory. “The Hickory’s engines have logged more than 19,000 hours of operation and are due for this critical maintenance.”
The Hickory is a 225-foot sea-going buoy tender whose primary mission is aids to navigation mostly around the Kenai Peninsula.