“Our crew used their unique capabilities and authorities as a military service, law enforcement agency, and member of the U.S. intelligence community to disrupt transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and keep drugs from making it to the U.S.,” said Capt. Edward A. Westfall, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell. “These illegal drug networks are dangerous breeding grounds for all types of trafficking and their immense profits fuel violence and instability.”
This morning Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft signed the Coast Guard Western Hemisphere Strategy. It addresses transnational threats and maritime challenges that threaten the security of our Nation, markets and oceans over the next 10 years. The Coast Guard is globally deployed, but our primary operating area remains in the Western Hemisphere. As we engage future challenges we must think strategically to best position our resources to leverage our unique authorities, capabilities and partnerships to achieve national objectives across the range of Coast Guard missions.
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson welcomed the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 2014 as the service’s newest complement of officers yesterday. Alongside degrees with majors ranging from humanities to engineering, cadets received commissions in the U.S. Coast Guard to officially begin careers in service to the country’s maritime needs.
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Vice Adm. Paul F. Zukunft to the rank of admiral and appointed him to be the 25th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard. The confirmation was approved by unanimous consent. Zukunft will assume the role of commandant, currently held by Adm. Bob Papp, at a change of command ceremony May 30, 2014.
Coast Guard crews work year-round to ensure they are ready to support their community in the aftermath of disaster. In keeping with the service’s proud tradition of preserving life, the Coast Guard has plans in place to protect communities from manmade or natural disasters and one of the most important elements of these plans is communication.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp provided oral testimony before two U.S. House of Representatives subcommittees yesterday on the Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request. In the morning, the Commandant testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security and in the afternoon testified along with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael P. Leavitt before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Marine Transportation.
Today I delivered my third State of the Coast Guard Address at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. As we look back on what we’ve accomplished in the last year and then look forward to the horizon, I have great confidence and optimism about where we are today and where we are headed.
For more than two decades, Coast Guard port security units have deployed throughout the world and provided security for personnel and supplies needed for Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Uphold Democracy, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, New Dawn and Unified Response. PSU members have also mobilized across the continental United States following 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. During each of these deployments, the security units’ watercraft was the legacy 25-foot Transportable Port Security Boat. But there’s a new, more capable asset on the horizon and PSU 311 welcomed the replacement during their current deployment at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.
The size and impact of Hurricane Sandy will be remembered for years to come and the significance of the storm will not be lost to the Coast Guard civilian volunteers who were part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Surge Capacity Force. Following Hurricane Katrina, a need was recognized for the federal government to be more responsive in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Thus, the surge capacity force was created.
Halting the flow of illegal drugs into the country can seem like a daunting task. However, vigilant Coast Guard crews are undeterred, meeting the challenges of drug interdiction head on. In California, their efforts are paying off. The Coast Guard recently surpassed a 50-ton milestone for marijuana seized at sea off the California coast this fiscal year. There have been 56 seizures of drug-smuggling boats or abandoned maritime drug offloads since October 2011 in the Southern California area; that is four times the amount seized in the same area during the entire previous fiscal year.