Those familiar with Coast Guard history know that the Service’s development has been shaped in part by the nation’s response to natural and man-made disasters. Nowhere is that lesson clearer than the history of the Service’s search and rescue, or SAR, mission.
To say that the North Shore of Alaska is a remote place is an understatement. The North Shore borders the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea, two marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean. Even in the middle of July, the waters in the area are still icy with large ice flows in many areas. It is not hard to see that conducting search and rescue, one of the Coast Guard’s core missions in the area, presents unusual challenges.
In 1915, the ‘Act to Create the U.S. Coast Guard’ was signed, merging the Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Life Saving Service to form the modern-day Coast Guard. The merging of these two organizations formed a service whose unique capabilities would prove to be invaluable just six month later on the Great Lakes.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Darren Harrity, a 27-year-old native of Jupiter, Florida, individually pulled each fisherman more than 250 yards in 57-degree water from their life raft to shore, where they were met by emergency medical services. Each of the fishermen were the same size or bigger than the 6-foot, 175-pound Harrity.
Good Samaritans are crucial force multipliers for the U.S. Coast Guard. With a single radio call, the Coast Guard can alert hundreds of vessels of a potential rescue case, requesting they keep a sharp lookout and, in some cases, respond to help those in peril.
The Coast Guard began its mission of migrant interdiction on the high-seas in 1794, when the Congress of the United States declared that no American citizen may carry slaves from the U.S. to another nation or between foreign nations. The Coast Guard, through its predecessor the Revenue Cutter Service, was charged with enforcing this law.
Coast Guard men and women in command centers across the country are standing the watch, ready for the call. Whether it’s noon or midnight, the watch never stops ticking.
“Their numbers were not large – their contribution was,” said Capt. Sean Cross. “They were all volunteers, many with spouses and families, who regularly put their lives on the line to save fellow airmen who were in peril of death or capture. Their focus was on Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty.”
Now that you know all about life jackets, safety equipment, and why float plans are so vital to you and your passengers, here is some great U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and State boating resources that you need to know.
In 2014, the Coast Guard was notified of 4,064 boating accidents that resulted in 610 people killed, 2,678 injuries and approximately $39 million of damage to property. But that does not tell the entire story.