wave.jpgAfter five months of assisting in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, the San Francisco-based U.S. Coast Guard cutter Aspen and its crew are expected to return to the Bay Area today.

Operating in the Gulf of Mexico, the 225-foot Aspen and its crew collected nearly 138,000 gallons of oil during the cleanup effort and helped direct operations between the Mississippi Delta and Panama City, Fla.

Before the cutter could pass through the Panama Canal on its return to its home station at Yerba Buena Island, it underwent oil decontamination in a dry dock in Tampa, Fla.

The vessel was well suited for the mission because of its ability to deploy skimming and oil containment equipment.

The 41 crewmembers aboard the Aspen–whose motto is “Tender of the Lost Coast”–joined more than 180 other California-based Coast Guard personnel assigned to the disaster response.

In addition to its oil spill duties, the cutter and crew recently responded to the disabled cruise ship Carnival Splendor, which lost power off the Mexican coast on Monday.

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