Each time we enter or exit our marina, we motor through a United States Coast Guard (USCG) station. As we pass, I cannot help but feel a profound respect for this branch of the armed services. These folks will risk their own lives to help save a fellow sailor. I think we have all seen footage where the USCG helicopter is plucking desperate sailors on the verge of drowning out of the storm tossed ocean. Their distinctive white vessels with a red stripe are seen often on news footage involving search and rescue. However, did you know, this is only a small portion of the duties performed by the USCG. According to Wikipedia (so it must be correct) the Coast Guard carries out three basic roles, which are further subdivided into eleven statutory missions. The three roles are:
• Maritime safety
• Maritime security
• Maritime stewardship
The eleven statutory missions as defined by law, homeland security missions and non-homeland security missions are:
• Ice operations
• Living marine resources (fisheries law enforcement)
• Marine environmental protection
• Marine safety
• Aids to navigation
• Defense readiness
• Maritime law enforcement
• Migrant interdiction
• Ports, waterways and coastal security (PWCS)
• Drug interdiction
And, last but most certainly not least: Search and Rescue. If you are on the ocean and are having a really bad day, these folks are here 24/7/365.
Here’s the part that’s going to make you say, wow!
They do all of this for the Inland Water Ways, Great Lakes, Pacific Coast, Atlantic Coast and The Gulf of Mexico with a force smaller than New York City’s Police Department.