Petty Officer Second Class Paul F. Floge, a Coast Guard reservist with Coast Guard Port Security Unit 311 out of San Pedro, Calif., provides security with a .50 caliber machine gun on the Khawr al Amaya oil terminal off the coast of Iraq. Flodge, who works full time for the Los Angeles Police Department, is one of many reservists called to active duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Coast Guard demonstrated the importance of a naval force experienced in shallow-water operations, maritime interdiction operations, port security and aids to navigation work. The port security units performed their port security duties efficiently in spite of their units being divided between three separate port facilities and two oil terminals. Patrol boats operated for countless hours without maintenance in waters too shallow for Navy assets and served as the Coalition fleet’s workhorses in boarding, escort and force protection duties. OIF was just one of the many combat operations fought by the Coast Guard since 1790 and its heroes are among the many members of the long blue line.


Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, April 21, 2010. A Coast Guard MH-65C dolphin rescue helicopter and crew document the fire aboard the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, while searching for survivors April 21. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon's 126 person crew. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: local enforcer to global responder—nearly 230 years of Coast Guard evolution!

In 1790, Alexander Hamilton established a small fleet of coastal law enforcement vessels to patrol off East Coast seaports. Over the next 228 years, the service experienced rapid growth in its geographic area of responsibility, mandated missions, and organization through mergers with other maritime services, reorganizations, and transfers from one federal agency to another. These frequent changes demanded remarkable flexibility and resourcefulness of the Coast Guard. The service has lived-up to its motto Semper Paratus by adapting and evolving to meet the nation’s changing needs emerging as a global responder known and respected at home and abroad.


The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mellon (WHEC 717) and crew patrol along the Maritime Boundary Line between the U.S. and Russia in the Bering Sea, Alaska, May 25, 2018. The crew kept a lookout for illegal encroachments of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone by foreign fishing vessels. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Bill Colclough.

Lookouts of The Last Frontier

The Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, homeported in Seattle, and its 180 crew members embark every year on their Alaskan patrol from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the nation’s top fishing port. The Mellon and its crew divide their patrols between the Pacific Ocean adjacent to Mexico and Guatemala. In the Eastern Pacific, offshore South America, the crew interdicts drug smugglers in the Joint Interagency Task Force – South area of responsibility.

In the Bering Sea, the Mellon crew keeps a lookout for mariners in distress and enforces laws and regulations related to the preservation of U.S. fisheries stocks.


In 2009, members of LEDET 409 detained suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden as part of Combined Task Force 151. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: LEDETs – 35 years of law enforcement missions

Since 1982, LEDETs have evolved from a counterdrug unit under local Coast Guard command, to one of the service’s modern Deployable Specialized Forces with a global area of responsibility. Over the course of their history, the LEDETs’ role has expanded to carry out a variety of maritime interdiction missions, including counter-piracy, military combat operations, alien migration interdiction, military force protection, counter terrorism, homeland security, and humanitarian response. The LEDETs and their law enforcement mission form one more link in the long blue line.


Maritime Security and Response Team members deployed in a special rigid-hull inflatable patrol boat. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: MSSTs and MSRTs—forged in the crucible of 9/11

With the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the War on Terror set in motion dramatic changes to the Coast Guard. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, U.S. ports, waterways, and coastlines were protected primarily by Coast Guard boat stations and cutters. Immediately following September 11, Coast Guard resources were reallocated to fill the additional maritime security functions required in a post-9/11 environment. A variety of new units, like the MSSTs and MSRTs, emerged as part of the Coast Guard’s greatest organizational transformation since World War II.


Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet A.J. Read poses for a photo between Hamilton and Chase Hall at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., April 4, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: First Class Cadet A.J. Read

For the past four years, U.S. Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet A.J. Read has defended the Bears on the soccer team as a center back, but this summer he takes defense to a new level as he joins Coast Guard Cyber Command in Washington, D.C. The Academy soccer star had a bumpy road trying to find his calling within the Coast Guard – he eventually found his passion within the electrical engineering major leading him to the Coast Guard Academy Cyber Team.


Scot Tripp and Lt. Cmdr. Shaun Vaccaro perform final checks on a Coast Guard-developed Hailing Acoustic Laser Light Tactical System onboard Coast Guard Cutter Flores, Feb. 14, 2018, in a Miami harbor. The CG-HALLTS system was designed by the Coast Guard Research and Development Center to effectively communicate and enforce maritime security zones with boaters. U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center photo.

Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Spotlight: Laser light communication system CG-HALLTS

Coast Guard Law Enforcement personnel need an unambiguous tool to better attract boaters’ attention and communicate with them. The Coast Guard Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Program is currently testing a possible solution: a Hailing Acoustic Laser Light Tactical System appropriately called CG-HALLTS. Instead of launching a small boat or dispatching a helicopter to determine a boater’s intent, the Coast Guard may be able to de-escalate a high-alert scenario with CG-HALLTS.


Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft testifies during the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., March 14, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard commandant testifies before Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Marine Transportation

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft testified on the military branch’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. He highlighted the service’s efforts to combat dangerous transnational organized crime networks and the funding and support of the Coast Guard’s future major cutter fleet to include Offshore Patrol Cutters, Fast Response Cutters, National Security Cutters and the polar icebreaker program.


Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashlee Leppert, an avionics electrical technician from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, takes a moment to reflect during ongoing missions in Houston while deployed for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: AET2 Ashlee Leppert

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August 2017, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashlee Leppert was one of the first aircrew members to deploy amidst raging winds and rising floodwaters. For her rescue efforts, President Donald Trump recognized Leppert and the hundreds of other Coast Guard members who responded to the hurricane at his 2018 State of the Union address.


The crew of Coast Guard Cutter James pose for a group photo after a drug bust in the Eastern Pacific. U.S Coast Guard photo.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Coast Guard Cutter James

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James is the recipient of the Capt. Hopley Yeaton Outstanding Cutter Award for their unbreakable resilience in not only breathing life into the steel of the ship, but by building James into one of the Coast Guard’s greatest assets in counter-narcotic operations. In only two patrols, James and its crew interdicted 22 drug smuggling vessels, seized 16,815 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated value of $560 million, and apprehended 70 suspected narcotics traffickers.


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