Ocean Rangers were watching when others were not 

As Ocean Rangers, we never lost sight of the fact that we represented the people of Alaska. That alone gave us purpose. There have been times while walking the streets of Skagway, someone will stop and thank us for our service. The feeling of being on the receiving end of those words was worth the pay cut on taking this job as an Ocean Ranger.

This was our last year as Alaska Ocean Rangers. We would like it known that it was an honor to represent this great state. As a seasoned licensed engineer officer, it was never a problem feeling alone in a crowd. Our career of being at sea for long periods of time prepared us for just such an event.

Before accepting this opportunity to serve the residents of Alaska, I had very little knowledge of the beauty and the deeper things of Alaska. The experience has been transforming. To be captured by the stillness of an Alaska night awakens the spirit of service, a spirit of commitment, a spirit of pride and courage, and a spirit to serve and protect the great state of Alaska from the mishaps and carelessness of cruise ships visiting Alaska waters.

I’m also reminded of the bond I have developed with the other Ocean Rangers, friendships for life.

What is an Ocean Ranger?

An Ocean Ranger stands alone in a crowd.

An Ocean Ranger walks the decks of the ship day and night, as an observer making sure the passengers and crew are protected from any mishaps.

An Ocean Ranger lets his/her presence be known, that we’re always watching. Officers and crew are always on alert, they never know when we might visit their work compartment.

An Ocean Ranger doesn’t compromise. We report what we observe despite resistance from cruise ship officers.

An Ocean Ranger’s presence onboard a vessel is a constant reminder to officers and crew that they can and must do better while in Alaska waters.

An Ocean Ranger is the last check and balances. We monitor state environmental and marine discharge requirements. We check that passengers and crew are protected from improper sanitation, health and safe practices. We monitor, observe, record data and information related to the engineering sanitation and health related operations of the vessel, including but not limited to registration, reporting, record-keeping and discharge functions required by state and federal law.

Most of all, Ocean Rangers are the eyes, ears and voice for the citizens of Alaska, to ensure them that we are here to serve and protect the waters and the beauty of Alaska from the carelessness of cruise ships entering Alaska waters. We were always watching when others were not.

James Ham, Ocean Ranger

Seattle, Washington