Strengthening our partnerships is more important than ever before. Our nation is making difficult but necessary decisions to put our fiscal house in order and we may be asked to do less with less, or at least do the same work with different means. But the need for maritime governance continues in order to achieve our shared goals of safe transportation, clean seas, and secure and efficient movement of commerce. Working as partners we will navigate “uncertain and stormy seas” together.
Tomorrow, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp will release the U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Strategy to guide our efforts in the region over the next 10 years. This strategy is based on nearly 150 years of Coast Guard experience in maritime operations in the Arctic region, since the U.S. Revenue Cutter Lincoln first arrived in the new U.S. territory of Alaska in 1867.
Operating in the Arctic is not a new venture for the Coast Guard. However, adapting to changing conditions will require foresight, focus and clear priorities. It will also require the closest of collaboration with our partners in the State of Alaska. Improving awareness, modernizing governance and broadening partnerships will best position our Service for long-term success by ensuring safe, secure and environmentally responsible maritime activity in the region.
In 1867 the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, predecessor service to the U.S. Coast Guard, transported the first federal officials to the territory of Alaska. From this modest beginning, cutters would eventually sail into the Arctic and the Bering Sea to protect the sea and those on it. Thus, “The Bering Sea Patrol” was born. Today, Coast Guard men and women continue to sail the Bering’s frigid waters, from the Akutan to the Pribilofs. It takes a certain type of sailor to perform operations in these waters; Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Valdes is one such Coast Guardsman.
Forty miles southwest of the Pribilof Islands, Coast Guard Cutter Munro navigated shifting ice fields to close on the Bering Sea’s largest fishing fleet. Arctic winds whipped through the bridge’s opened door at sunrise while crewmembers cleaved ice on the forecastle and engineers looked over the ready boat to make sure its systems wouldn’t freeze up. These frozen conditions don’t sound ideal for most people. Then again, most people aren’t crewmembers aboard Munro.
The Coast Guard is in his blood. Caleb Gaudian is a few weeks away from shipping to Coast Guard Basic Training. He won’t have much time in boot camp to ruminate on what brought him here, but his family history is rich with Coast Guard adventure.
Coast Guard Cutter Storis is truly a magnificent ship. The accomplishments in her service record have secured her a permanent place in Coast Guard, American and maritime history. This fact was recently evidenced in December 2012 when the National Park Service officially listed her in the National Register of Historic Places.
To put this listing into perspective, there have been more than 1,567 commissioned cutters to serve in the Revenue Marine, Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Coast Guard. Out of all of these cutters, Storis now joins Eagle, Ingham, Mclane and Taney as the only five non-tenders to be listed as National Historic Places.
Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp was joined by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert to discuss maritime strategic issues during the WEST 2013 Luncheon Town Hall Address in San Diego, Calif. A main point of discussion during the event was the Commander-in-Chief’s strategic guidance that the U.S military “…will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.”