Coast Guard Cutter Gets First Female Skipper

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Coast Guard Cutter “Chock” has been in service for half a century. In that time, it’s had a lot of captains.

But Alex DeMetrick reports none like its newest skipper.

The Coast Guard calls it a cutter but it looks more like a tugboat. Its name “Chock” refers a work-a-day piece of hardware. It’s been in service for 51 years.

Monday it had its first female skipper: Chief Petty Officer Tracy Randall.

“I’m honored, humbled. This is a great experience. I didn’t earn this as a female; I did earn it as a coast guardsman. It’s a great, great job. It took a long time to get here,” Randall said.

Part of that job means ice breaking when the winters are cold enough to freeze the bay. The Chock’s done it in the past, but it had to travel up the bay from Virginia, so last year the Coast Guard moved it to Baltimore.

It’s got the horsepower and thick hull to do it.

“It’s a huge helm. It’s a lot to drive this thing. It takes a lot of manpower to move and we do 10 knots and it’s a beautiful 10 knots,” Randall said.

Which is really slow for a boat with an engine. But speed isn’t the point, it’s versatility and the skills to take on a variety of missions.

“The guys on this crew are awesome. We ran a bunch of drills. They’re very proficient and masters of their craft,” Randall said.

This boat may have been in service for half a century but that doesn’t make it old.

“It’s beautiful. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into it. I call it the Cadillac of the Coast Guard,” Randall said.

Besides clearing ice, “Chock” also conducts search and rescue missions and provides port security.

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