ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. -- An Atlantic Beach-based Coast Guard cutter is celebrating 50 years of service.
The Coast Guard Cutter Hammer serves in the coastal waters of Florida and southern Georgia.
On Thursday, the crew dressed the ship, a maritime tradition reserved for special occasions and reflected on the cutter's past in honor of the milestone anniversary.
The Hammer is an inland construction tender homeported at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville in Atlantic Beach, is comprised of a 75-foot tug pushing a 68-foot barge and was placed in service Nov. 30, 1962.
With a 70-foot crane and pile-driving device, the Hammer is manned by 14 enlisted personnel who cover Sapelo Sound in Georgia south to Melbourne and the St. Johns River from Mayport to Sanford.
"People often see us and wonder what we do," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Kahle, officer in charge of the Hammer. "The improvements we make, along with the other local aids to navigation teams, provide a huge service to those who transit on the river and rely on the aids for safe navigation."
Throughout the last 50 years, the Hammer has gone through 18 changes of command, numerous engineering plant modernizations, and advances in navigational positioning from the use of sextants to today's increased accuracy through the use of GPS.
The Hammer was constructed by Gibbs Shipyard, Inc. in Jacksonville, but its original homeport was Fort Pierce. It was relocated to Sector Jacksonville in July.