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Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Digital

Sunday 4/13/2003. 5:22 p.m.
I am sending this from a high-endurance cutter called the USCGC Boutwell (right), a 378-foot vessel that is off the coast of Iraq. She is basically keeping track of fishing-boat traffic in the area, most of which come down a couple of rivers, one from Basra, and the other from Umm Qasr.

I am travelling with a couple of other journalists, one from CNN, one from U.S. News and World Report, and another from Reuters.

I am spending tonight with a Port Security Detachment, a group made up of Coast Guard reservists stationed at a place called Kayot, a huge oil terminal that was one of the first things to be taken at the onset of the war. Port Security members are from Tacoma, Washington; most of them are policemen and firemen in civilian life, and they are guarding the terminal.

Spent time this afternoon on a British ship, a turbine powered, 390-foot Frigate, with a British Coastie who was really into marine magazines. He gave me a demonstration of what his “powerboat” could do; revved all four turbines up to wide-open throttle—sounded like a 707 jet cranking up—and did 26 knots, not bad for a 50,000-ton ship. Then he did a full-astern stop, the wind whistling through his hair on the bridge wing. I said, “Nice of you to take the trouble to give me this demonstration.” He replied, “Oh it's nothing, ol’ chap. Just did it yesterday. Keeps her from getting lack-of-use disease.”

Tomorrow I hope to get aboard another Coast Guard boat and go into Umm Qasr.

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This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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