OK, you may think that the United States Coast Guard’s mission is all about policing our coasts, our major rivers and lakes, monitoring fishing and saving the lives of boaters, etc. While they do those things, that is only one of the incredibly diverse and complicated missions that our modern Coast Guard is responsible for today. This video will give you a quick visual sense of how awesome and important our Coast Guard is to the nation and our national security.
The various scenes in this video will introduce you to some of the things that our “Coasties” do on a daily basis, all for our safety and security. You will see that the Coast Guard has a very diverse air wing, along with its many different sea going assets. In the second vignette you will see one of its boats breaking through the huge incoming waves that break over the bar at the mouth of the Columbia River, a place euphemistically called “The Graveyard of the Pacific.” Those boats are designed to right themselves if or when they are capsized by these monstrous waves. The Coasties that drive them and crew them to take harbor pilots out to incoming cargo ships, as well as for rescue missions, are a breed unto themselves.
You will see some footage of the Coast Guards assets that patrol the Pacific, the Gulf coast, and the Caribbean whose mission is to deter the constant and ever more dangerous movement of drugs into the United States. Along with these larger cutters, the Coast Guard maintains a Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) unit in Florida used that is designed to go after the fast boats that are used by the drug cartels. These include highly trained snipers who are so skilled that they can take out a boat’s engine with a single round, firing from a fast moving helicopter at a fast moving, bobbing and weaving cigar boat, putting it instantly out of commission and enabling armed Coast Guard boarding crews to arrest the crews of those boats and to seize their contraband.
The Coast Guard has its own Special Forces unit called, Maritime Security Response Teams (MSRTs), which specialize in maritime counterterrorism and high-risk maritime law enforcement. Like Navy SEALs, they also excel at Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations and are often deployed outside of the U.S.
I have written in the past about the icebreakers of the USCG, the Polar Star and others. These ships have proven their worth in both the waters of Antarctica and the Arctic. Their importance is growing though these ships are aging now. There are new large and medium icebreakers being built to enhance the fleet at this time.
If you have been watching the news lately, you may have heard that USCG military vessels and US Navy vessels have been harassed recently by Iranian small boats in the Persian Gulf. You may not have known that the USCG has assets in war zones, but this has been true since WWII where USCG boats and personnel participated in the Normandy Invasion and in the Mediterranean, as well as in the island hopping campaigns of the Pacific Theater. I have a close friend who is a Coast Guard Vietnam veteran who served on a wooden-hulled USCG minesweeper there.
The United States Coast Guard may be our smallest service, but its mission is wide, diverse and very important for the safety and security of our nation, both at home and abroad.
We send our deepest thanks to all who presently serve, and to all who have served in the United States Coast Guard in the past. We honor your faithful and skillful service.