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Making waves: Coast Guard Cutter Spar headed for Duluth this spring

Making waves: Coast Guard Cutter Spar headed for Duluth this spring
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 8:15 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 12, 2022 at 8:00 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - More than half of Lake Superior is covered in ice, but a new Coast Guard Cutter called Spar will soon head to the Twin Ports to help clear the way.

“The primary duties will include aiding in navigation in Lake Superior and breaking ice in Duluth harbor,” said Kyle Hansen, a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the U.S Coast Guard.

Hansen is part of the Twin Ports-based crew serving onboard the CGC Spar.

Hansen said the Spar will be replacing CGC Alder, which has been serving in the Twin Ports since 2004.

“The Spar will be doing the same job and the same responsibilities that Alder used to have,” said LTJG Hansen.

CGC Spar was built more than 20 years ago and served off the coast of Alaska.

She’s spent the last year out of commission getting a maintenance upgrade.

But she’s not the first coast guard cutter to be named Spar.

“The original Spar buoy tender was built in Duluth at Marine Iron and Ship Building,” said Jayson Hron, Director of Communications and Marketing for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

The first Spar ship was built in the midst of a building push during World War II.

“At one point in 1942, they had 12 of these things under construction at one time at Marine Iron and Shipbuilding,” said Hron.

And to keep up with production, shipbuilders tapped a different workforce to build those vessels.

“With so many of the men off fighting in the war, a large portion of the workforce became women and they had a huge hand in building the original Spar,” said Hron.

But it wasn’t just the shipbuilders who needed women to get the job done.

“From 1942 to 1947 the Coast Guard started the Coast Guard Womens Reserve,” said Hron.

More than 10,000 women joined the coast guard during those 5 years.

And the name of the Coast Guard Womens Reserve was Spars.

A name that will once again be making waves in Duluth.

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