Star Trek fans will undoubtedly identify outer space as “the final frontier,” but marine researchers would argue that the icy waters off the coast of Antarctica can make a similar claim. The Ross Sea is the last intact and most pristine ocean ecosystem on the planet, and is home to a wide variety of whales, seals, penguins and fish, many of which can’t be found anywhere else on Earth. It’s a living laboratory and provides scientists the last chance to understand how a healthy marine ecosystem functions.
As the U.S. Coast Guard celebrates its 226th birthday, it’s relevant to note the role this service plays in advancing this research and, ultimately to protecting our planet. This month’s feature story highlights the Coast Guard’s crucial icebreaking work to keep Antarctic scientists and support teams supplied for “wintering over” at the base of the world.
In contrast to the bone-chilling cold and violent thrashing of crushing through thick ice, I invite you to watch a beautiful video that condenses two months of icebreaking into five minutes. It’s a time-elapsed display of the Nathaniel B. Palmer’s journey through the Ross Sea and highlights the beauty and grandeur of this natural wonderland. (The Palmeris a privately-owned, ice-capable vessel that is chartered by the U.S. National Science Foundation.) The video (available at www.fra.org/icebreakingvideo) is produced by Cassandra Brooks, a PhD student at Stanford University, who is studying international ocean policy and highly focused on protecting Antarctica. You can learn more about Ms. Brooks, her blog posts for National Geographic and efforts to protect the Ross Sea at the following websites:
The Coast Guard’s work in the Polar Regions is a great example of cooperation between the U.S. and other nations, as well as with academic, scientific and technology communities across the globe. It’s also a graphic demonstration of the Coast Guard’s multiple missions and how the service’s unique capabilities serve our citizens and the world.
Thank you, USCG, and “Happy Birthday!!” Lauren Armstrong is FRA’s Director of Communications and serves as the Managing Editor of FRA Today. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Return to Table of Contents
Happy 226th Birthday, United States Coast Guard! Created on August 4, 1790, today’s Coast Guard is our nation’s oldest continuous seagoing service and has been involved in every U.S. war up to and including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. From it’s beginning as the “Revenue Marine” to its eventual transition to the “U.S. Revenue Cutter Service,” its original mission was to collect customs duties in U.S. seaports. When it merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service in 1915, the modern Coast Guard was formed. Today, the Coast Guard is charged with maintaining maritime borders, facilitating the global movement of goods, responding to threats and hazards to our natural interests and security, and safeguarding natural marine resources. According to the Coast Guard’s 2013 White Paper, the Coast Guard, at its most fundamental level, “protects those on the sea, against threats delivered by sea and the sea itself.”
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, I had the opportunity to tour a moored Coast Guard Cutter on several occasions. What struck me then and continues to inspire me is the Coast Guard’s focus on service to our citizens. As one of our nation’s seven uniformed services, the Coast Guard’s multiple and varied missions cover … quite literally … the waterfront. In addition to supporting a variety of military operations around the world, the Coast Guard is also tasked with securing our ports, waterways and coastline; drug and migrant interdiction, law enforcement, placing and maintaining buoys and other aids to navigation, providing search and rescue resources in maritime emergencies, protecting marine environments, ensuring marine safety and conducting ice operations (as highlighted in this month’s feature story starting on page 18).
This year, Coast Guard Aviation is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Who would have ever thought that back in 1903 a group of surf men from Kill Devil Hill Station in North Carolina would have provided the Wright brothers the added muscle needed to launch their epic flight? By 1915, the Coast Guard had conceived the use of aircraft for Coast Guard missions and established a flying school. In 1916, Congress authorized the Coast Guard aviation service, which has evolved to the cadre of planes and rescue helicopters we know and rely upon today.
FRA annually hosts a breakfast event for members of the congressional Coast Guard Caucus to meet with senior leaders of the service. Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steve Cantrell attended this year’s event and thanked FRA for its longstanding support of Coast Guard personnel and their families.
The Coast Guard is dedicated to service and has given us a rich 226 years of protection and safety. The Coast Guard is “Always Ready.” SEMPER PARATUS!