Deputy Commandant for Operations 227th Coast Guard birthday message

Written by Vice Adm. Charles Ray
Deputy Commandant for Operations

A U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro boat crew transits international waters in support of Operations North Pacific Guard, Aug. 15, 2017. Operation North Pacific Guard is a multilateral effort by North Pacific rim nations to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing to include high-seas drift net fishing. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Angela Semerling.

A U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro boat crew transits international waters in support of Operations North Pacific Guard, Aug. 15, 2017. Operation North Pacific Guard is a multilateral effort by North Pacific rim nations to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing to include high-seas drift net fishing. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Angela Semerling.

The United States Coast Guard is the fifth armed force; a multi-mission, maritime service within the Department of Homeland Security. This year, Coast Guard members and their families around the globe are celebrating 227 years of service by honoring our storied past and securing both the future of our service and the nation.

From our start as the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790 through today, the Coast Guard has been part of every major U.S. military action. The U.S. Coast Guard helps defend our great nation by supporting the National Security Strategy and safeguarding our economic interests – two missions that can be clearly traced back to our founding days.

The Coast Guard is actively developing, refining, and executing several strategies that guide our efforts in meeting the growing needs and demands of our nation. In alignment with the national strategies, we pursue our Arctic, Western Hemisphere, Cyber, and Human Capital Strategies and are currently refining a National Economic Security strategy to best serve our nation.

Strategies alone will not ensure our nation is secure and prosperous. Rather, it is our 88,000 Active Duty, Reserve, Civilian and Auxiliary personnel, who collectively span the globe and smartly serve our nation as integrators and protectors to meet our nation’s needs. It is our present day workforce who lives up to the ideas our forbearers started as members of the Revenue Cutter Service. Aided by intelligence-driven operations with DHS, Department of Defense, and allied partner nations, as a service we then employ forward-deployed cutters, aircraft, deployable specialized forces, marine inspectors, life savers, and overall outstanding people to disrupt, interdict, protect, and save lives throughout the world.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James transits the Atlantic Ocean, March 29, 2017. Cutter James is the Coast Guard's 5th National Security Cutter, the largest and most technically advanced class of cutter in the Coast Guard, with robust capabilities for maritime homeland security, law enforcement and national defense missions. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James transits the Atlantic Ocean, March 29, 2017. Cutter James is the Coast Guard’s 5th National Security Cutter, the largest and most technically advanced class of cutter in the Coast Guard, with robust capabilities for maritime homeland security, law enforcement and national defense missions. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake.

At sea, The Coast Guard is the lead federal agency for maritime border security and employs a layered security approach, ensuring maritime domain awareness and prioritizing threats to maintain an adaptable interdiction posture in the Western Hemisphere, up to 1,500 miles south of the physical borders of the United States. Our National Security Cutters (NSCs) are a force to be reckoned with around the globe as they employ the latest technology and have proven themselves successful in supporting all of our statutory missions. The NSCs offer a robust command and control platform for homeland security contingency operations, to include national security events and emergent disaster recovery operations.

Fast Response Cutters (FRC) are demonstrating their ability to take on greater missions along our nation’s coasts and proving that these enhanced platforms are the way ahead for our coastal force.

The Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) marks our latest augmentation for our at-sea forces as these new vessels will replace our aging Medium Endurance Cutter fleet. The Coast Guard’s Icebreakers, Buoy Tenders, and Inland River Tenders round out our fleet and serve our national interest by ensuring we have a strong and recognized presence in the Arctic, Antarctic, Great Lakes, and facilitate the safe flow of commerce on the inland rivers.

U.S. Coast Guard aircraft. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

U.S. Coast Guard aircraft. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

In the air, the Coast Guard operates approximately 204 aircraft from 24 Coast Guard air stations. These aviation platforms support search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, port security, Aids to Navigation support and marine environmental protection.

Along our coasts, it is our local Coast Guard sectors and small boat stations that are most readily recognized by America’s coastal seafaring community. Members of these units work closely with our interagency federal, state, local, tribal, international, and private industry partners to ensure safety and security closest to home. These are the first responders to distress calls and the ones who ensure our natural resources are protected by enforcing fisheries laws and responding to pollution incidents or other natural disasters. These resources include our Marine Inspection workforce, who inspect vessels and facilities to ensure compliance with safety and security requirements. In all, the Coast Guard facilitates commerce to the tune of nearly $4.5 trillion annually, and this ranges from the heartlands of America to our busiest ports serving as the first stop in international trade.

Vice Adm. Charles Ray, Deputy Commandant for Operations. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Vice Adm. Charles Ray, Deputy Commandant for Operations. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Collectively, our workforce and the physical assets we use are national resources vital to performing DHS missions around the globe, to include the harshest operating environments from the Arctic to the Antarctic and from the South China Sea to the Middle East and Africa.

While this highlights some of the many responsibilities that reflect our multi-mission efforts, I am constantly reminded of our service’s vast accomplishments over the past 227 years and humbled by our organization’s impact in shaping our great nation. Lastly, I want to extend a heart-felt “thank you” to our Coasties- past, present, and future for your dedication and devotion to duty. I am honored to serve alongside you. Semper Paratus!

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