The past 12 months for the U.S. Coast Guard were marked by significant success and some tragedy. The year also demonstrated that the service has moved beyond merely fraying at the edges and has begun to unravel, particularly with regard to its aging fleet. Nevertheless, through their initiative, innovation, and sheer determination, the men and women of the Coast Guard continued to perform superbly to ensure the service met its mission.
The question is, how long can they continue to keep the ship afloat with the proverbial "bailing wire and chewing gum?" This question is particularly apt as the service faces substantial budget cuts over the next few years, which are forcing it to decommission five major cutters and five maritime safety-and-security teams (MSSTs) and to cut nearly 800 billets.