The Coast Guard
"Grumblings From The Engineroom" is Editorial Comment from The Summer 2001 Edition Of The Old Salt's Journal, National News Letter of The Coast Guard Sea Veterans Of America
organization is dedicated to telling sea stories and maintaining our traditions.
As a general rule it stays out of
the political arena. But,, things are going on today that go beyond the scope of
our mission statement and they should be addressed. These are the personal
feelings of the writer.
after editorial, news clippings, speeches by Senior Coast Guard Officers, and
statements by elected officials keep echoing the need to rebuild the Coast
Guardís physical plant. Year after year in the budgetary process, the needs
are not met. In the last few years the Commandant has implemented a rebuilding
of the Coast Guardís long range, high endurance fleet, and other related
hardware. Will this massive effort survive the many budget battles it will have
to face going through in the next how many years? Or will the priority of needs
be continued to be buried in the Dungeons of the Transportation Department
Budget, positioned somewhere after Light Rail Schemes and Dreams.
it be to late when this new hardware comes on line? Will the present 378ís
built in the 1960ís hold up another several years? Or will the shipís
routine regress into stealing spare parts from each other as happened with the
long lived, 311í AVPís borrowed from the Navy that the CG operated
from the late 1940ís until the mid 1970ís?
ships get older, installed equipment manufacturers go out of business, merge
with others and generally lose their identity. The Log Office probably has more
volumes of the Thomas Register than they have good technical manuals. Spare
parts are eventually exhausted and after they can no longer be found, even in
salvage yards, no amount of money does any good.
is nothing short of a miracle that ancient ships such as the Storis and Mackinaw
are even running. Both of these ships as well as many others still in service
are over fifty years old.
C-130ís are another class of hardware that should be replaced. There are
horror stories about air stations that have three of these birds laid up, and
only one in the air, and to get it in the air, spare parts had to be
cannibalized from the any or all of the three planes on the ground.
shore establishment has been suffering. Even as boating is expanding, stations are being closed or downsized.
The basic 41 footers are of an age where they will have to be retired as were
the 40 footers and 38í picket boats before them.
the Aids to Navigation 180í Buoy Tenders are being replaced by newer and more
modern tenders. This program is on the right track.
is most scary is the current under-manning of the entire Coast Guard, stretching
the human resources almost to the breaking point. Long hours are the rule and
not the exception. Training suffers because there is no time for it. Personnel
are often promoted before they are ready as an expedient. Eventually the cadre
will become so thin and widely dispersed that the blind may be leading the
is hard for Old Saltís to conceive of a Coast Guard that isnít ďalways
ready.Ē In our day, if you were short handed you made do always putting the
mission first. We were a ďdifferent breed of catĒ in another era where it
was expected to put in long workweeks at below subsistance level salaries. Many
of us were either just barely high school graduates or school dropouts. Some way
or other our rag-tag lot of Hooligans stumbled through things, sometimes making
up our procedures as we went along. We did it, usually complaining about it, but
to be quite honest, our efficiency and proficiency suffered. We were always
ready, but often not as ready as we should have been. In retrospect, we didnít
know any different.
readiness of the Coast Guard after the big draw-down when WWII ended is about
the same as it is today; old ships, old boats, old planes, personnel shortages,
hit or miss training, and all of the other sins of an organization that had been
gutted out but still had itís many mission to accomplish. The big difference
today is the people enter with a much higher level of education and their
potential is much greater.
keep on the law makers backs Ė Cut newspaper and magazine clippings out that
are about the good things the Coast Guard does every day and pass them along to
our congressmen with a note about how they are expected to vote on the next
Coast Guard appropriation bill.
a letter to the Commandant supporting his efforts.
you see a lone Coastie, go up to S/He and and give thanks for their efforts. At
every occasion where it is appropriate, talk up the Coast Guard and let people
know what they do and stress your pride in it.
Marines arenít the only ones with pride.
the pressure on at every level. There are a lot of us out there and collectively
we can have some influence on the
course of events. Do your part.
get the whole Coast Guard modernized and up to sufficient personnel strength to
accomplish all missions all the
time with adequately paid, qualified people, who have whole lives.
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