Coast Guard Atlantic historian William Thiesen also pitches in to commemorate the bicentennial with a rundown of the contributions made by the usually unsung Revenue Cutter Service. The revenue cutters performed valiantly against smugglers and Royal Navy warships throughout the war, but they also suffered devastating losses. Here, they finally get the recognition they deserve.
Among the modern successors to those vessels has been the Island-class cutter, one of the true workhorses of the service, which “has stood a taut watch over three dynamic decades and established a venerable legacy,” notes Coast Guard Lieutenant Craig H. Allen Jr. Now, the Island class is preparing to make way for the promising Sentinel-class fast response cutter (FRC), which boasts “significant upgrades in size, seakeeping, endurance, capability, and habitability over its legacy predecessor.” The first FRC was commissioned in April, and two more are slated to be by year’s end. For Coast Guard cuttermen, it is the dawn of a new era.
Meanwhile there is no shortage of demand for Coast Guard assets, from the frigid Arctic to the balmy waters of the Caribbean. Lieutenant Commander Brian Moore argues that the United States should have a much greater presence in the increasingly active Arctic. But it’s not exactly flash traffic that we have a dearth of ice-capable vessels. He details how we can quickly and cost-effectively equip the Coast Guard to provide assistance when and where needed and patrol the seas, using existing technology and joint operational arrangements. In particular, he recommends refurbishing the icebreakers, committing to new vessels, deploying unmanned reconnaissance drones, using high-speed response aircraft, and working with Navy submarines.
The Coast Guard, observes Captain Douglas M. Fears, also “has the broadest-reaching authorities of any U.S. maritime law-enforcement organization—perhaps of any law-enforcement organization.” With maritime interdiction as a time-honored and experience-refined capability, the service is absolutely indispensable in combating the criminal drug trade. It is in the maritime realm that the greatest amount of cocaine is halted, Captain Fears notes; he also points out how the Coast Guard’s counter-drug framework “is an effective model for interdicting any maritime illicit traffic, in any of the global maritime commons.”