Written by Lt. Regina Caffrey
As one of America’s five Armed Services the Coast Guard’s partnership with the Department of Defense is central to mission success. With distinctive authorities, competencies and capabilities not found in the other military services, the Coast Guard is essential to homeland defense and partners with the DOD to ensure mission success overseas.
These partnerships take place every day, across the globe, in operations centers and at sea. Last week the 13th Coast Guard District had a rare opportunity to showcase what the nation’s longest-serving sea service brings to the fight for Gen. Martin Dempsey, the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“It was an honor and a privilege to escort Gen. Dempsey and showcase the Coast Guard’s unique capabilities in the Pacific Northwest,” said Rear Adm. Keith Taylor, commander of the 13th Coast Guard District. “His visit will help to strengthen the critical partnership that exists between the Coast Guard and our DOD counterparts throughout the region.”
At Sector Puget Sound’s Joint Harbor Operations Center and Vessel Traffic Service Dempsey was able to observe three operations centers that optimize information sharing and integrated response operations. The JHOC, available to all local partners, provides virtual connectivity with the Navy Regional Operations Center, adding to the region’s integrated communication system.
“The most important part of his visit is having General Dempsey at the unit to see how it operates first hand,” said Chief Petty Officer Thomas Quigley, command duty officer at the JHOC. “General Dempsey appeared impressed by how much we do on a daily basis to provide security in the Puget Sound and Strait of Juan De Fuca.”
Dempsey also had a chance to ride aboard Maritime Force Protection Unit boats to Naval Base Kitsap. The force protection unit is a rare single-mission unit working jointly with the Navy to escort and protect Navy vessels. The unit’s personnel are specifically trained and equipped to conduct escorts for DOD assets transiting to and from Naval Base Kitsap.
“I could tell right off the bat he cares for his people,” said Chief Petty Officer Todd Moulton, boat division chief at MFPU. “I was also impressed he had the Coast Guard represented on his command coin.”
After observing the interagency operations, Dempsey went aboard Coast Guard Cutter Mellon. Mellon, a high endurance cutter, is designed to perform each of the Coast Guard’s missions, including search and rescue, defense operations, law enforcement and environmental protection.
True to form for multi-mission cutters, Mellon goes anywhere they are needed, from Alaska to South America. Recent patrols found Mellon performing Alaskan fishery patrols, enforcing international and domestic fishing requirements, all the way down to South America and the Eastern Pacific for counter narcotics and migrant interdiction.
“Had a great day in the greater Seattle area. We started with a visit to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 13th District (U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest) including a tour and briefing in their maritime operations center to tours of the USCG Cutter Mellon and the Ice-breaker Polar Star. The crews of both ships are quiet, dedicated professionals carrying out a variety of challenging tasks,” said Dempsey. “The Pacific Northwest is in great hands with the service members and their families living and serving here.”