Gary Thomas, executive director of the Foundation for Coast Guard History's individual achievement award for his service on the tiger naming team to help identify relatives of former enlisted Coast Guard heroes.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Cmdr. Bill McKinstry

The Foundation for Coast Guard History presented an individual achievement award to Cmdr. Bill McKinstry for volunteering to serve on the fast response cutter naming tiger team. The team helps identify and locate relatives of former enlisted personnel heroes who were under consideration as possible FRC namesakes.


Picture of the medium endurance cutter Vigilant, homeported in Cape Canaveral, Fla. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Vigilant – distinguished name, OPC namesake

The Coast Guard commissioned the 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter Vigilant (WMEC-617) in 1964, which means it has served this nation nearly 55 years. During those many years, the cutter has performed the missions of maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, homeland security, national defense and international engagement. The Coast Guard will soon build the “Heritage”-Class 360-foot Offshore Patrol Cutters with Vigilant as the 10th in the first flight of OPCs and 11th service vessel to bear this name.


An Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrew and Fijian navy Sub-Lt. Opeti Enesi, a Fijian shipriider, return from a patrol over the Fijian islands, Dec. 8, 2018. The Hercules was supporting a Fijian navy patrol boat during a law enforcement operation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West.

Fijian shiprider joins Coast Guard aircrew on patrol

Almost a month after a bilateral shiprider agreement was signed by Michael Goldman, Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Suva, and Fiji’s Minister of Defense Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, a Fijian navy shiprider flew with a Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrew over the Fijian Islands, Dec. 8, 2018.

The agreement, signed Nov. 12, 2018, allows Fijian officials to board United States’ assets and conduct law enforcement from them in Fiji’s territorial waters, and allows both nations to pursue common causes such as fisheries protection.


Petty Officer 1st Class Tiffany Stratford, a boatswain's mate attached to Aids to Navigation Team Kodiak, services a light at the top of a tower at Nelson's Lagoon, Alaska, Nov. 16, 2018. ANT Kodiak crew members are required to be hoist-qualified in order to service aids in remote Alaskan locations like this one. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Dean.

Unique teams maintain Alaska’s commerce flow

To keep the system moving safely and smoothly, Coast Guard members in Alaska have the unique opportunity of maintaining navigational aids to ensure the consistent flow of goods throughout Alaska’s marine highway. Despite limiting factors, Aids to Navigation Team Kodiak crew members work diligently to ensure the navigational aids are maintained, re-built and serviced.


Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Lt. Brian Churchill

Last fall, the White House Fellows program accepted its second Coast Guard reservist in more than 50 years. Lt. Brian Churchill was honored to be selected for the WHF program; among others, the program accepted a neurosurgeon, several Ivy-league graduates, a software CEO and a Rhodes scholar. The program was established in 1964 to give young leaders the opportunity to get first hand, high-level experience with the inner workings of the federal government.


Historians believe this to be a rendering of the cutter Pickering. If so, it is the earliest known rendering of a U.S. revenue cutter. Illustration courtesy of Coast Guard Historian’s Office.

The Long Blue Line: Combat Cutter Pickering—lost 220 years ago, now an OPC namesake

During the Quasi War, U.S. naval authorities considered the Pickering one of their finest combat cutters. Today, 220 years later, Pickering will be recognized and remembered as one of the Coast Guard’s newest class of cutters. The cuttermen of Pickering and their heroic cutter will always remain a part of the long blue line.


Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Spotlight: Polar Scout Program Launches

The Coast Guard Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Program and the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate partnered together to test the capabilities of small, inexpensive satellites – known as CubeSats – through the Polar Scout Project, including the launch of two CubeSats. The results of these tests will help improve communication in the Arctic environment, monitoring large areas for illegal activity, and helping to locate persons in distress at sea.


Tony Agresta, second from right, plays the trumpet with a band. Photo courtesy of the Agresta family.

A big band coastie and his Italian prisoners go to town in WWII

This is a story of a young seaman during WWII who befriended POWs over Betty Gable movies, played trumpet in the United States Coast Guard orchestra band in Charleston, South Carolina, and spent his later years performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey. It’s not a story well-known, but a story worth knowing.


The Long Blue Line: Buoy Tender White Alder—lost 50 years ago, but not forgotten

On Saturday, December 7, 1968, White Alder was steaming down-bound on the Mississippi River. At approximately 6:30 p.m., it collided with the up-bound motor vessel Helena, a 455-foot Taiwanese freighter. The 133-foot buoy tender sunk in 75 feet of water with three of its crew surviving, the rest entombed in the sunken cutter.


A vintage photograph showing Fessenden after the cutter’s 1883 conversion to an iron hull showing the coal smoke blowing forward from a tailwind. (Historic New England)

The Long Blue Line: William Fessenden—the man and his cutters

In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Maine Senator William Fessenden to be the 26th Secretary of the Treasury. Fessenden was faced with the Federal Government’s insatiable demand for funding for the war effort. With the aid of private Civil War financiers, Fessenden developed successful short-term loans holding generous interest rates that became popular with northerners. Named for this important public servant, Revenue Cutter Fessenden was one of two vessels contracted by the Treasury Department.


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