HISTORY AND MISSIONS
The original CYPRESS (above) was constructed in 1908 for the U.S. Lighthouse Service. She was one of eight Manzanita-class tenders. She served her entire career in the Sixth Lighthouse District, which spanned from New River, NC to Jupiter, FL. During World War I, she was transferred to the Navy under Executive Order on 11 April 1917. She returned to the Lighthouse Service in July 1919. She temporarily transferred to the 10th Naval District in 1932, where she established new ATON throughout the Caribbean region. During World War II, she was assigned to Charleston, SC and was given the hull number WAGL 211. After 38 years of service, USLHS CYPRESS was decommissioned in 1946 and sold in March 1947.
The current CYPRESS has been stationed in the Gulf of Mexico since commissioning. Her first homeport was at Sector Mobile along the Arlington Channel in Mobile, AL. CYPRESS replaced the 180 foot ocean going buoy tender SWEETGUM after it was decommissioned in 2002. In 2009, excessive silting began to reduce the depth in Arlington Channel making it impassable for CYPRESS in high wind or low tidal conditions. When CYPRESS began to lose operational days due to these conditions, a feasibility study was launched to compare three options for a new homeport: Port of Mobile, AL; Coast Guard Station Pascagoula, MS and Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, FL. NAS Pensacola was ultimately chosen as CYPRESS' new homeport. She was officially moved there in 2011. CYPRESS’ main operating area stretches along 900 miles of the Gulf Coast, from Apalachicola, FL to the Mexican Border in Brownsville, TX, where she is responsible for the maintenance of 117 floating aids to navigation. CYPRESS carried out an extended support mission for District Seven by taking on ATON responsibilities throughout the Caribbean during CGC OAK's mid-life maintenance period. These duties extended CYPRESS' buoy tending responsibilities to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
CYPRESS is truly a multi-mission unit that upholds the Coast Guard’s motto “Semper Paratus,” meaning Always Ready. Since her commissioning, CYPRESS has distinguished herself through exemplary performance in a wide range of operations. CYPRESS participated in historic hurricane recovery operations after the devastations of IVAN, KATRINA, RITA and ISAAC, recovering and re-establishing buoys that were up to 24 nautical miles off station and re-establishing critical Gulf Coast channels including Pensacola, Mobile, Gulfport, Pascagoula, New Orleans, Sabine, and Corpus Christi. In 2012 and 2016, CYPRESS built upon this history of hurricane response by re-establishing several critical ATON in New England following Superstorm SANDY and in Savannah, GA following hurricane MATTHEW.
In 2005, CYPRESS contributed to the re-build and extension of the Galveston ship channel entrance, the portal to Houston-Galveston area, used by more than 6,000 large vessels annually. In addition to routine and emergency servicing of 117 federal ATON, CYPRESS also assists the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) by servicing approximately twenty weather buoys throughout the Gulf of Mexico. These buoys are critical to assisting professional mariners with voyage planning as well as tracking storm formation and predicting hurricanes.
CYPRESS was designed to operate as a multi-mission cutter with 60% of her resource hours dedicated to ATON and 40% dedicated to other Coast Guard missions. CYPRESS has a solid history of supporting these secondary missions, engaging in Joint Agency operations, Maritime Law Enforcement patrols, marine environmental response efforts, and conducting SAR. In 2004, CYPRESS successfully recovered a sunken 38,000 pound “Blue Angel” F/A-18A Hornet from 40 feet under water in the Gulf of Mexico, the pilot ejected in time and survived the crash. Since then, CYPRESS has served as the center point for the annual Blue Angels’ famed air show at Pensacola Beach, FL. In spring 2007, CYPRESS completed her first extended Alien Migration Interdiction Operations (AMIO) patrol for Coast Guard District Seven. During this patrol, CYPRESS set the standard for other cutters by successfully chasing and interdicting two go-fast smuggler vessels and seven suspected smugglers; as well as processing over 75 illegal migrants. In 2008, CYPRESS promptly responded to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacting the Gulf of Mexico, conducting oil recovery operations and support of the operational commander’s goals. During a 2015 SAR case, CYPRESS successfully rescued three people and saved their recreational boat, which was taking on water 100 nautical miles off the Texas coast.
CYPRESS remains Semper Paratus.