There is no “typical” Tuesday in the Coast Guard, but this blog features a snippet of what the Coast Guard was up to on Tuesdays during the month of February. From Antarctica to Key West, with old and new assets, the Coast Guard carried out missions vital to protecting and securing our national interests.
Temporary Denial of Service 911 hoax calls plague our nation’s first responder agencies. Similarly, there is a growing hoax call problem on the Channel 16 maritime distress frequency, which mariners rely on for radio communications in our nation’s ports and waterways. Search and rescue (SAR) hoax calls disrupt and divert the Coast Guard’s operational response to legitimate mariners in emergency situations. The Coast Guard has partnered with an academic research team to tackle the SAR hoax call phenomenon.
Though their voices are always heard over the radio and they save countless lives, Coast Guard operations specialists are rarely seen by the maritime community they serve. Behind the scenes these Coast Guard men and women obtain vital information to rescue mariners and careful plan and coordinate search and rescue missions.
On October 10, 1966, the Coast Guard and U.S. Air Force joined forces to open the National Search and Rescue School in Yorktown, Virginia, to provide training in oceanic, coastal and inland search planning procedures. The school, which has delivered training to 30,000 people, including more than 2,400 international students from 150 nations, recently celebrated 50 years of Service to Nation.
It was 6:10 a.m., when it came ashore in southeast Louisiana, blowing 125 mph winds and dumping heavy rain. No one could predict just how devastating the strong Category 3 hurricane would be for New Orleans. And no one knew at the time, but the Coast Guard’s response to Hurricane Katrina would turn out to be one of the largest search and rescue mission in the nation’s history.
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.
The SS Marine Electric sunk amidst a strong storm off the coast of Virginia on Feb. 12, 1983. Of the crew of 34, only three survived. In response to the sinking, the Coast Guard convened a marine board to investigate the causes surrounding the disaster. The resulting report was released 30 years ago this summer and would significantly alter the safety culture throughout the maritime community.
Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a restitution payment of nearly $500,000 as part of the sentence handed down in United States of America v. Danik Shiv Kumar for making a false distress call that caused a massive search on Lake Erie in March 2012.
Ireland has a coast guard with a more focused mission, search and rescue. Their singular-mission focus has helped foster improved maritime safety and the Commandant saw several examples during his visit with the Irish Coast Guard.