DAUPHIN ISLAND — Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation Government Services and Bowhead Family of Companies recently dedicated their newest vessel in honor of Clifford Saavgaq Okpeaha's lifelong …
DAUPHIN ISLAND — Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation Government Services and Bowhead Family of Companies recently dedicated their newest vessel in honor of Clifford Saavgaq Okpeaha's lifelong commitment to "serve and deep maritime experience."
For over three decades, Saavgaq served as the Barrow Volunteer Search and Rescue coordinator in Alaska and was described to be an expert mariner and teacher who was committed to serving the people of Utquagvik and the North Slope of Alaska.
Saavgaq was said to have had a sense of humor and shared his faith through his musical instrument, the guitar. During his time as a coordinator, he landed whales and fed the entire North Slope community and is remembered for his willingness to help community members.
After traveling all the way from Alaska, Saavgaq's family sat underneath a shaded tent while looking out at the Dauphin Island waters. This event was special to the Saavgaq family, especially the sister of the expert mariner, Ida.
"It means a lot to me," said the younger sister. "I was already emotional two days ago."
When the sister was first informed that the vessel would be named in honor of her older brother, she described her feelings as "super happy."
During the ceremony on Sept. 8, Mike Hundley, senior vice president of UIC Government Services, said this dedication was very special.
"Today is the best example I have of culture and mission," he said.
Hundley added that this vessel, named in Saavgaq's honor, will continue to make a difference just like the person it was named after.
The Saavgaq vessel was originally designed in the 1973 and features a tow reel. This 41-foot utility boat was in service for 30 years, and USCG Auxiliary serviced it for 10 years in the Great Lakes region.
The new vessel found it's new home with Bowhead where it will be used with the United States Coast Guard in the Mobile Bay.
Capt. Dale Croy, project manager at Bowhead Family of Companies, said this vessel was transformed to have the newest technology to be used in training those who come on board. "It (the vessel) allows us a lot more latitude on being able to service boats, maintenance wise," Croy said. "It also opens a lot more avenues in the marine industry for future work for the Saavgaq."