Saturday, February 22, 2020

Coast Guard plans to make Charleston one of its largest US bases

Coast Guard cutter sailing under suspension bridge. Multiple other watercraft visible including large cargo ship in background, February 19, 2020

The Coast Guard’s top officer is expected to announce this week that 

Charleston will become one of the largest concentrations of ships and 

guardsman in the nation.

CHARLESTON, VA – Adm. Karl Schultz, the Coast Guard’s top officer, will announce Thursday that
Charleston will become one of the largest concentrations of ships and guardsman in the nation.
The announcement will come during Adm. Schultz’ annual State of the Coast Guard address at the
Port of Charleston. This year will be his second time delivering the address. Last year’s address was
delivered at the Coast Guard Base in Los Angeles/Long Beach.
“The commandant will also announce the future investment in Charleston to support the arrival of the
service’s newest military surface assets,” the Coast Guard said in its press advisory.
“Over the next five years, the Coast Guard will homeport multiple new cutters and consolidate its
operations along one waterfront, growing Charleston into one of the nation’s largest concentrations
of Coast Guard assets and people,” the statement said.
Charleston currently hosts three cutters and more than a thousand service members. It has not yet
been announced how large the force footprint will grow here and what bases will be consolidated in
that five-year time frame. 
The Post & Courier reports that Thursday’s announcement shows how South Carolina’s military
presence is expanding rapidly. The Palmetto State has eight major military bases. At least one in
12 jobs in the state can be tied back to the Department of Defense, and South Carolina boasts
the ninth-highest military retiree population in the nation. 
Schultz is expected to reflect on the organization’s successes over the past year, including the
Coast Guard response to Hurricane Dorian, detail the fiscal year 2021 White House budget request
and outline the shared vision for the future of the service, according to the press release. 
Charleston’s Coast Guard station has been involved in many high-level rescues, drug seizures and 
other operations, ranging from far-away missions in the Caribbean and the Pacific this past year. 
In September, the Golden Ray, a cargo ship carrying automobiles, rolled onto its side as it was
leaving a port in Georgia bound for Baltimore. Coast Guard resources from Charleston rushed to
the area and assisted in the rescue of four men trapped inside. 
In May, Charleston-based Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton seized a fishing boat in the Galapagos Island
that had a half-ton of cocaine in the hold. In June, the Hamilton unloaded 26,000 pounds of cocaine
and 1,500 pounds of marijuana at a port in Florida.