Honolulu Star Bulletin 03/08/03)
By Ray Pendleton
If you're a recreational boater in Hawai`i, there's little doubt you sincerely appreciate the US Coast Guard's presence in our offshore waters.
After all, this is a boater's paradise, but we are still floating around in the most remote island archipelago in the world.
Whether you ever need them or not, just knowing the "Coasties" are ready to respond to your call for help -- be it a medical emergency, a man-overboard, a loss of power, a fire, a capsizing, or a sinking -- is a very comforting thought.
Internationally, the USCG undertakes more than 65,700 search-and-rescue (SAR) missions a year. And on any typical day, it saves 14 lives and gives assistance to 328 people.
It also maintains the largest aids-to-navigation system in the world, which includes more than 50,000 devises ranging from lighthouses, to buoys, to light and radio beacons.
Above and beyond its services for recreational boaters, the USCG also has responsibility for marine and environmental protection, maritime law enforcement, waterways management and, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11, homeland security.
The USCG's 14th District SAR area of responsibility not only includes the Hawaiian Islands, but the surrounding 12.2 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean that ranges east and north halfway to North America, west beyond Guam and south nearly to American Samoa.
To cover this large territory, its sea-going assets include: two 225-foot buoy tenders home ported in Honolulu and one 180-footer in Guam, four Island-Class patrol boats based in Honolulu, the Big Island and Guam, an 87-foot Marine Protector-Class patrol boat based in Kaua`i and two 378-foot High Endurance Cutters based in Honolulu.
It also has both C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft and H-65 Dolphin helicopters for aerial SAR missions.
Still, it's the USCG's personnel that live up to its motto, "Semper Paratus," Always Ready -- those 1,579 men and women living and working here in Hawaii's 14th District.
Because it has long been recognized that the needs of our military personnel and their dependents can't always met by the various services, private organizations have stepped up to help solve the problem.
For the USCG, it's the Coast Guard Foundation that assists its personnel and their families, and in just the past year the Foundation has provided numerous benefits to those in the 14th District.
It funded the construction of a picnic pavilion in the USCG's Red Hill housing area, purchased exercise equipment for Hawai`i-based Cutters, purchased on-station recreational equipment, and provided some 50 enlisted personnel with grants for their off-duty continuing education.
As it's funding comes from individual and corporate donations, the CG Foundation has announced it is hosting its first annual Tribute to the Coast Guard in Hawai`i as a salute to its service to our state and as a fundraiser for future projects.
The tribute will take place on Friday evening, March 28 at the Hale Koa Hotel and both individual tickets and table sponsorships are available.
If you would like to express your appreciation to the Coast Guard and help the Foundation in its efforts, contact the Tribute Headquarters at (808) 589-2407, or e-mail questions .
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