The U.S. Coast Guard lived up to its motto of being “Always Ready” in 2011 – from interdicting the first drug sub in Caribbean waters to providing humanitarian relief to a drought-stricken island nation, Coast Guard crews had a remarkable year. As 2011 winds down, Compass brings to you “Your Coast Guard in 2011” – a series highlighting the top stories, missions and cases from around the nation. Visit us every day this week to read about each district and the extraordinary men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard.
We move up the coast from California today as we hear about the diverse mission of the 13th Coast Guard District.
Written by Chief Petty Officer Robert Lanier.
The men and women of the 13th Coast Guard District are the Pacific Northwest’s first responders. Each and every day, more than 4,000 men and women answer the call by demonstrating the highest competence in execution and support of the service’s missions.
Sector Columbia River, located in Astoria, Ore., and Group/Air Station North Bend, Ore., answered the call when a March tsunami, the result of a 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan, affected the Pacific Northwest.
Coast Guard inspection teams positioned themselves to assess potential damage to infrastructure along the Washington and Oregon coasts in advance of the swell. Coast Guard cutters assisted with the recovery of vessels washed out into the Pacific Ocean, and marine safety experts coordinated with federal, state and local partners to mitigate effects of any pollution.
Air Station Astoria answered the call in July, when they rescued an injured man from a cliff near North Head Lighthouse near Ilwaco, Wash. With the assistance of the Pacific County Fire Department., a rescue helicopter crew recovered the 34-year-old man from the face of the cliff.
Fishing vessel aground
Station Chetco River, Ore., answered the call when the 52-foot, wooden-hulled fishing vessel Josias ran aground near Brookings, Ore., with three people aboard. The 25-foot response boat crew safely evacuated all three passengers, and Coast Guard members from Station Chetco River worked to quickly minimize any potential pollution threat.
Barge Davy Crockett
This dedication to environmental protection and restoration is high in the Pacific Northwest and was most evident in Marine Safety Unit Portland’s efforts during the deconstruction and removal of the 433-foot abandoned barge Davy Crockett.
The 10-month response included the successful removal of nearly 40,000 gallons of oil, more than 4 million pounds of steel and more than 841,000 pounds of debris, including 4,850 pounds of asbestos. The $20 million project – funded by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and managed by the Coast Guard, Washington Department of Ecology and Oregon Department of Environmental Conservation – was successful due to its completion with no reported harm to fish or wildlife.
But these responses would not be complete without great people who answer the call every day. Those men and women who are Semper Paratus, live the Coast Guard’s core values and are proud to be Coast Guardsmen, those who are the epitome of the Coast Guard Ethos…
People like Petty Officer 2nd Class Leon Doniphan, a food service specialist aboard Coast Guard Cutter Alert in Astoria. He was headed home, after a full workday, when – without hesitation – he answered the call by swimming to the aid of a young girl in immediate danger of drowning under a navigation barge in the Columbia River.
…And 21-year-old Nathaniel Ryma, a fireman at Station Yaquina Bay, in Newport, Ore. He was off duty, eating dinner when he answered the call by responding to a man collapsed in a vehicle nearby. Ryma administered CPR until emergency medical personnel arrived.
The 13th Coast Guard district answers the call for the American public, in various ways every day. The commitment to excellence makes the more than 4,000 men and women of the district Always Ready for all threats, all hazards and all responses… at all times.