An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

My Coast Guard
Commentary | Dec. 16, 2020

Congratulations to the 2020 Hopley Yeaton Award recipients

The Douglas Munro Chapter of the Surface Navy Association is honored to announce the recipients of the 2020 Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence and Superior Cutterman Awards.

This year's nominations were absolutely impressive, and a testament to the hard work being done by the cutter fleet every day. As nearly half of all U.S. Coast Guard members serve afloat in their first four years in the USCG, the cutter fleet is entrusted with the important task of developing and molding the Coast Guard of the future.

The cutter fleet continues to strive for excellence, while at the same time identifying and encouraging the future leaders of our fleet. 

This year’s winners are:

  • Cutter Excellence Award (Large Cutter): CGC POLAR STAR (WAGB 10)
  • Cutter Excellence Award (Medium Cutter): CGC BEAR (WMEC 901)
  • Cutter Excellence Award (Small Cutter): CGC CHEYENNE (WLR 75405)
  • Superior Cutterman Award (Officer): LCDR Ian Starr - CGC ALEX HALEY (WMEC 39)
  • Superior Cutterman Award (Enlisted): EMC Dimitri Brisker - CGC WAESCHE (WMSL 751)


Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award (Large) - CGC POLAR STARThe Polar Star at McMurdo Station

CGC POLAR STAR (WAGB 10), throughout a 325 Day Away from Homeport (DAFHP) in 2020, completed a remarkable 122-day deployment in support of Operation Deep Freeze (ODF). During ODF, POLAR STAR established and groomed a 22 nautical mile channel through 10-foot-thick Antarctic ice to resupply McMurdo Station, conducted a three-ship escort into Winter Quarter’s Bay for a sealift of 8 million gallons of life-sustaining fuel, 900 containers, and $480 million in materials and supplies for infrastructure recapitalization. During ODF, POLAR STAR also facilitated the State Department's historic treaty inspections of Chinese, Italian, and South Korean facilities, cementing U.S. leadership and influence in the region. Returning home amidst a global pandemic, the cutter successfully completed their $7.9 million, four-month dry dock. POLAR STAR's unique people plan required few crewmembers to need to spend more than 215 DAFHP. Lastly, POLAR STAR's prototyping of Deployment-Based Training (vice Tailored Ships Training Availability) is setting well-founded precedents for future cutter training models. 

Honorable Mentions for the Large Cutter Award are:

  • CGC MUNRO (WMSL 755)


Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award (Medium) - CGC BEAR

CGC BEAR off the coast of Praia, during the crew's most recent deployment to Africa.In 2020 the CGC BEAR (WMEC 901) executed a very high optempo of 218 DAFHP in a 242-day period, exhibiting great flexibility in the execution of an unexpected deployment to West Africa. Initially slated to patrol in the Eastern Pacific, while on patrol BEAR's crew responded admirably to a hole in the engine room, battling flooding at sea for nearly 16 hours. Over a five-day period, BEAR conducted emergency repairs and requested $250K in parts and supplies for an Out of Hemisphere (OOH) deployment 3,500 miles away from depot level support.
BEAR sailed across the Atlantic to exercise US-Cabo Verde bilateral agreements during 25 LE exchanges, numerous exercises, and interdiction of a 280 foot freighter. BEAR's preparations allowed for completion of a major at-sea shaft seal replacement and replacement of a 1,200 pound fire pump while in AFRICOM.
BEAR also completed a 48-day D7 patrol which included a 4-day boarding of a 300-foot Haitian freighter, and a 75-day, $2.4M drydock during the height of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
BEAR hosted three cutterman calls, including an event supporting the search for USRC BEAR, was published in the CG Compass and the Maritime Executive, conducted an information operations campaign earning the attention of the National Security Council, and prototyped the Abbott Now COVID test machine to mitigate COVID risk. 
Honorable Mentions for the Medium Cutter Award are:

Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award (Small) - CGC CHEYENNEThe crew of the CGC Cheyenne 

In remarkable fashion, the 54-year-old CGC CHEYENNE (WLR-75405), stationed in St. Louis, MO, serviced over 1,185 buoys and 150 shore aids in FY20. This high optempo across 576 river miles on the Mississipi river and three Sectors, combined with record-high water, flooding, and other cutter casualties, meant CHEYENNE had more underway hours than any of the other 33 ATON cutters in D8. Despite the cutter's age, and numerous significant casualties including loss of the #1 MDE and cancellation of the cutter's drydock, the hard work of CHEYENNE's crew meant that the cutter only had nine days of unscheduled availability, achieving a Ready for Operations rating of 99%. Despite CHEYENNE’s primary ATON mission, the crew responded to a person in the water SAR case on June 4. The watch-stander overheard a “Pan Pan” for a person in the water near the Gateway Arch, 2.5 miles away. A volunteer boat crew quickly assembled and launched a small boat, arriving on scene within minutes. The crew discovered a woman clinging to floating debris up river from a fleet of barges and moments away from being pulled under by the swift river current. The boat crew quickly maneuvered through the extreme conditions and rescued the woman, saving her life. Once onboard the boat crew brought her back to the cutter where medical personnel provided treatment. This rescue was an especially noteworthy occurrence because the CHEYENNE does not maintain a SAR-ready posture.
Honorable Mentions for the Small Cutter Award are:

Hopley Yeaton Superior Cutterman Award (Officer) - LCDR Ian StarrLCDR Ian Starr

As Executive Officer of USCGC ALEX HALEY (WMEC 39), LCDR Ian Starr exemplifies the qualities and characteristics of a Coast Guard cutterman. Through his positive engagement with his crew at a remote unit in Alaska during a global pandemic, LCDR Starr has been critical to ALEX HALEY's success in FY2020. Despite COVID-19, under LCDR Starr's leadership the overall esprit de corps of the ALEX HALEY has improved dramatically. Working with the Health, Safety and Work-Life Service Center and a broad network of D17 POCs, LCDR Starr was a critical liason for providing care to crewmembers suffering from mental health crises during the pandemic, to include short-notice MEDEVAC of five personnel from the most remote corners of the D17 AOR. Relying on experience and initiative, LCDR Starr also developed procedures, later adopted fleet-wide, to expedite testing for individuals underway in a remote AOR. A caring individual dedicated to crew proficiency, LCDR Starr also created an extensive JO PRODEV program involving practical shipdriving, a "speed mentoring" event, and in-depth leadership discussions, including a revival of ALEX HALEY's LDAC through engagement of the Chief and First Class messes onboard. Lastly, LCDR Starr is an expert shipdriver who led the cutter through Combined Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART), Tailored Ships Training Availability (TSTA), Aviation Certification (AVCERT), and Finance and Administration inspections with superb results. 
Honorable Mentions for the Superior Cutterman Award (Officer) are:
  • LCDR Nolan Cuevas - CGC SPENCER (WMEC 905)
  • LCDR Adam Gercon - CGC RICHARD SNYDER (WPC 1127)
  • LCDR Nicholas Galati - CGC POLAR STAR (WAGB 10)


Hopley Yeaton Superior Cutterman Award (Enlisted) - EMC Dimitri BriskerA fire on the CGC WAESCHE

Electrician's Mate Chief Petty Officer C Dimitri Brisker is a cutterman to the core. While CGC WAESCHE was transiting across the Pacific Ocean, 700 nautical miles from the nearest land, the cutter experienced a major class bravo fire on one of the main diesel engines that rapidly climbed 8 decks and spread to the interior bulkhead of the ammunition magazine. Displaying incredible bravery and foresight as a member of the Rapid Response Team, EMC Brisker managed initial response efforts. At great risk to his own personal safety, EMC Brisker then led an attack team topside to the O-3 level to combat the fire immediately adjacent to several ammunition magazines, preventing cascading casualties from exploding ordnance. He then cleared hot spots, overhauled damaged spaces, dewatered compartments, and enacted makeshift repairs to restore propulsion for avoidance of a fast-approaching tropical storm. EMC Brisker has been able to pioneer Coast Guard-wide changes, including creation of class-wide MPC cards to address bow thruster start problems and a class-wide JQR for the diesel generator. When WAESCHE also experienced a crippling casualty to all modes of propulsion, EMC Brisker and his team also trouble shot the MRG for 10 hours to identify and replace a faulty module card. EMC Brisker's list of responsibilities displays the breadth of his devotion to the crew. He is the Command Chief, the senior Engineer of the Watch, a Damage Control Training Team and Engineering Training Team member, cutterman qualification program manager, and an advanced Motor Turbine technician. 

Honorable Mentions for the Superior Cutterman Award (Enlisted) are:

  • EMCS Theodore Compton - CGC HERBIERTO HERNANDEZ (WPC 1114)
  • ET1 Michael Clements - CGC BEAR (WMEC 901)
  • BM1 Jason Drexler - CGC MUNRO (WMSL 755)

The SNA will coordinate with OPCONs to recognize this year's winners. Some level of virtual winner participation will be requested at this year's Surface Navy Association National Symposium, scheduled for Jan. 11 to 15, 2021.

Bravo Zulu and great work to this year’s Hopley Yeaton Award recipients and nominees. The sheer volume of praiseworthy nominees, as well as the high quality award write-ups continues to impress.

This year's nominees were selected by panels consisted of 32 active duty and retired permanent cuttermen from the ranks of O-8 to E-7, who collectively have amassed 341 years of sea time.

Thank you to all commands for submitting and reviewing nominations.