Adm. Zukunft testifies before Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft testifies before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft testifies before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

At the start of the month, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft testified on the Coast Guard’s budget before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. Today, the Commandant was back on the Hill, discussing the need for continued investments in Coast Guard platforms and people with the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

After thanking the subcommittee for providing the Coast Guard’s largest acquisition appropriation in history, the Commandant highlighted how the service successfully leverages intelligence to drive operations. Last year, two of the Coast Guard’s newest national security cutters returned to port offloading more than $1 billion of pure cocaine. But, the Commandant cautioned, it is not just about drugs. Disrupting the flow of illicit content severs the financial supply lines of transnational organized crime networks.

The Commandant also emphasized the importance of major acquisition projects, including the offshore patrol cutter. In his opening statement, the Commandant noted he remained “confident that we will down-select to a single shipbuilder and award OPC detailed design by the end of this fiscal year.”

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell testifies before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell testifies before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

In addition to key operational highlights related to the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy, the Commandant spoke about U.S. Arctic interests and sovereignty. Today, Cutter Polar Star is homeward bound after completing a successful break-out and resupply of McMurdo Sound,” he said. “She is the only heavy icebreaker in the United States inventory capable of completing that mission – and she has less than seven years of life remaining.” “I look forward to continuing to work with you to accelerate heavy icebreaker acquisition,” he said to committee members.

Testifying alongside the Commandant was Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell. The Master Chief reiterated the Commandant’s message from his February State of the Coast Guard Address: investments are “as much about people as it is about platforms.”

“Our folks are the very best at what they do,” said the Master Chief. “Despite budget or resource deficits, they’ll find a way to get the job done.”

“Programs that directly support them and their families are things our budget process has to pay attention to,” he added.

Editor’s note: for more information on Coast Guard budget priorities, visit the Coast Guard’s budget in brief. You can also watch the Commandant and Master Chief’s full testimony or check out where the Coast Guard is headed in 2016 by watching the 2016 State of the Coast Guard Address.

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