End of an era
Posted by LT Stephanie Young, Thursday, October 4, 2012
Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Anderson, Deployable Operations Group.
Closing out nearly 10 years of Coast Guard operations supporting Task Group 56.5 in the Northern Persian Gulf, the Coast Guard was released from its operational responsibilities providing security around Kuwait Naval Base.
Shortly after a small ceremony, Sept. 24, Port Security Unit 309 flew halfway around the world to demobilize and return to their home base at Port Clinton, Ohio.
“During the past nine-and-a-half years, more than 2,000 PSU members have teamed with our Navy brothers and sisters in arms to protect high-value assets carrying millions of tons worth of ammunition, fuel and equipment,” said Capt. Gene Gray, Deployable Operations Group commander. “These efforts ensured the operational commanders in both the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters had the flexibility to adjust to strategic situations and shifts in offensive operations.”
During PSU 309’s three-month deployment, they provided seaward security at strategic port locations around the North Persian Gulf ensuring the free flow of personnel, equipment and commerce in the region.
PSU boat crews conducted joint operations and training with the Navy’s Maritime Expeditionary Squadron Three as part of Combined Task Group 56.5, under the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command. CTG 56.5 is charged with providing harbor defense and security to ports, seaward approaches and waterways within U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.
“I’m very proud of the PSU 309 crew,” said Cmdr. Gerald A. Nauert, PSU 309’s commanding officer. “They provided security to Northern Arabian ports and honed their skills, keeping the edge on the sword. In addition to that, they also cleaned house and prepared the nearly 10 years of accumulated equipment for our demobilization.”
PSUs began the Gulf mission in 2003 with Operation Iraqi Freedom. Coast Guard Port Security Units arrived in the Middle East to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon their arrival, PSU 311 and 313 members relieved U.S. Marines of responsibility for security on two gas and oil platforms in the Gulf. The Marines had held both platforms after U.S. Navy SEALS took them from the Iraqi regime.
Their mission was to hold two economic lifelines of Iraq’s oil industry, the gas and oil platforms known as Mina Al Bakr Oil Terminal and Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal. Without power or running water, PSU members lived aboard the sprawling 1,200-foot-long platforms and manned gun emplacements. The oil platform’s living quarters were infested with rats and cockroaches, and PSU members repaired and cleaned in between their security watches.
As the mission progressed, they moved from the platforms to Kuwait Naval Base. During the height of operations, PSUs guarded almost 300 ships per year through the North Persian Gulf. In completing this essential task, Coast Guard PSUs averaged 50 sorties a week for the last nine years, logged more than 4,600 underway boat hours each year and completed more than 93,000 boat maintenance hours to keep the transportable port security boats operational.
“Every one of the eight Port Security Units in the Coast Guard has deployed to this CENTCOM area of operations, most, more than once,” Gray said. “Every one of them has completed the mission proficiently, professionally and safely. Their efforts kept the trucks rolling, the aircraft in the air, the troops on the ground supplied and bolstered the free flow of commerce in the region as we assisted in ensuring oil platforms in the North Arabian Gulf continued to operate – allowing for the continued flow of product bound for countries around the world.”