Coast Guard Improves Guam Response Capabilities with Station Apra Harbor

HAGATNA, Guam – At an official ceremony here today, the U.S. Coast Guard established a small boat station here in Apra Harbor. It is the Service’s first small boat station in the Mariana Islands.

Small boat stations typically perform the bulk of the Coast Guard’s near-shore or shallow water work, responding to distress calls, enforcing security and safety zones and interacting with recreational boaters to promote safety on the water.

Station Apra Harbor joins 188 other Coast Guard small boat stations throughout the United States. The legacy of the U.S. Coast Guard small boat station dates back to the establishment of the U.S. Lifesaving Service in 1878. The multi-mission role of Coast Guard stations comes from the merger of the U.S. Lifesaving Service and the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service that formed the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915.

“It’s a great honor to help establish this station,” said Chief Petty Officer Eric Benafel, the officer in charge of the new unit. “It is foremost a call to duty, a call to leadership, and a call to selflessness, and the men and women of Sector Guam’s boat forces section treasure this opportunity to serve our country, protect our island and her people.”

Benafel is a Boatswain’s Mate chief petty officer and will lead a crew of 17 active duty and 11 reserve enlisted personnel. The Coast Guard is unique in that the service entrusts leadership positions — called “Officer-In-Charge billets” — to senior enlisted members.

“We have the utmost confidence in Chief Benafel to lead a fine team of Coast Guard men and women at Station Apra Harbor,” said Capt. Thomas Sparks, commander of Coast Guard Sector Guam and the service’s senior-most officer in the territory. “Station Apra Harbor will greatly enhance our ability to serve the residents of Guam.”

The station’s crew will maintain and operate three 25-foot “Defender Class” small boats. As an independent command operating under Sector Guam, Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor will carry out missions in support of America’s maritime safety, security, and stewardship interests. The new station will be heavily tasked with performing law enforcement, search and rescue, homeland security, and homeland defense operations.

The establishment ceremony was held on the waterfront at Apra Harbor and was attended by more than 100 people, including Guam senators, Guam’s police chief Paul Suba, Guam Fire and Rescue Capt. Sal Monteverde, Capt. William Marhoffer the chief of prevention of the Fourteenth Coast Guard District and Cmdr Tess Neumann of Coast Guard Atlantic Area.

Capt. Stephen E. Mehling, the Fourteenth Coast Guard District chief of staff, presided over the ceremony.

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