A Bay Area-based Coast Guard cutter is on its way to the Gulf of Mexico to help with the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The Aspen and it's crew of 41 and took off from port at Yerba Buena Island Thursday morning. It will join nearly 200 other California-based Coast Guard personnel assigned to oil spill duty. The cutter is perfectly suited for the mission because it has skimming and oil containment equipment on board.
"The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a national disaster," said Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered here. "We're going to help in any way we can. The American people and Gulf Coast citizens deserve our strong support."
The length of deployment is unknown for the crew, but they are not expected to see their families again for the rest of the summer.
In addition to performing search and rescue missions, assisting in navigation and patrolling waters for law enforcement, the cutter can also be used for logistics, command and control.
The cutter's crew is made up of 34 enlisted and 7 officers. It normally is responsible for a area stretching from the Oregon-California border down south to San Diego.