Almost two years after leaving Sitka on an historic 8,000-mile voyage through the Northwest Passage, the USCG Cutter Maple returned to duty with a splash this spring at its new homeport in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. The ship assisted NASA in a test of its Orion spacecraft. In March, a 47′ motor lifeboat from USCG Station Fort Macon towed a full-scale replica of the Orion crew module offshore, where it was flipped by the crane aboard the Maple. Once inverted, a series of inflatable bags called the Crew Module Uprighting System (CMUS) deployed and reoriented the module.
The Maple, a 225′ buoy tender, completed a full refit at the US Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore late last year. It’s the fourth of the 225’s to undergo a mid-life makeover, officially called ISVS, or In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program. The previous vessel to receive the refit was the USCG Cutter Kukui, which arrived in Sitka last June to replace the Maple.