Storis Film Screens at Anchorage Film Fest Sunday

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Jay Barrett/KMXT

Though the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Storis was broken up for scrap in a Mexican wrecking yard several years ago, the former “Queen of the Fleet,” which was based in Alaska for 50 years, will return to the state on Sunday – at the Anchorage International Film Festival.

“Storis: The Galloping Ghost of the Alaska Coast,” a long-form documentary film, was made over the last few years by Damon Stuebner of Juneau.

A former journalist, Stuebner was approached a few years ago by the group wanting to turn the Storis into a maritime museum. He said the more he looked into the cutter’s illustrious history, the more impressed he became:

“Almost everything the ship did had the precursor of the first or the only or the last. It was the first ship to do this, or the last ship to do that, or the only ship for this. And that just really fascinated me,” he said. “And the more I dug into the history the more fascinating I thought it was, and I just felt there really should be something there as far as getting the history down, and the more I discovered how great a visual history the more I realized, yes, there really should be a documentary done on it.”

While working on the film in his spare time, Stuebner found that the former crew of the Storis were more than willing to share their stories with him.

“The amount of generosity that a lot of veterans had in opening up their scrapbooks and their home movies to me…. I remember I came back from one trip and there was a package of 16 mm movie film on my doorstep. Someone had actually just sent me their original footage,” Stuebner said. “So I was just absolutely very gracious with the amount of help that people gave me on it. I don’t think I could have done it without them.”

And in meeting with former crewmembers, Stuebner discovered that the Storis, during its 60-plus-year history, was a multi-generational vessel.

“I had spoke with crew members who, they had their uncles or their sons or their cousins, spouses serve on the ship at different time periods, or in some cases, together,” he said.

He also found out that the Storis was truly, and literally, one of a kind.

“It was the only ship built of its design and class, and yet it was in service for almost 64-and-a-half years. That is an incredibly long time for a ship of only one design to be in service,” Stuebner said. “And yet to have it patrol in all of the northern waters – that really the most surprising thing for me.”

If you find yourself in Anchorage this weekend, the first showing of “Storis: The Galloping Ghost of the Alaska Coast” will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Anchorage Museum. A second screening will be on Wednesday evening at 7 in the Alaska Experience Theater. 

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