Coast Guard to celebrate 221st birthday

9th Coast Guard District NewsCLEVELAND – Coast Guard men and women nationwide are making plans to celebrate the service’s 221st birthday Thursday in a variety of ways.

This includes the 6,000 active-duty, reserve, auxiliary and civilian members of the 9th Coast Guard District’s 75 units throughout the Great Lakes region.

Media interested in visiting Coast Guard units or interviewing Coast Guardsmen in their area should submit their request to the 9th Coast Guard District Public Affairs Office at 216-902-6020.

The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, predecessor of the modern-day U.S. Coast Guard, was established at the urging of Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the treasury. Hamilton’s Revenue Cutter Act authorized construction of the original 10 cutters of the Revenue Marine on Aug. 4, 1790.

Coast Guard roots in the Great Lakes run as far back as 1819, when the first Great Lakes lighthouse was established at Presque Isle on Lake Erie. Since then, Coast Guard men and women assigned here have responded to maritime threats and emergencies with bravery and dedication.

Such as on the evening of Nov. 10, 1975, when the Coast Guard coordinated the search for the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in Lake Superior during a storm. Despite a valiant search by Coast Guard crews and Great Lakes shippers, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank with all 29 onboard. Following an investigation into the accident, the Coast Guard released a marine casualty report, which outlined causative factors and made maritime safety improvements that continue to keep mariners and vessels safe.

More recently, the Coast Guard led the multi-agency response to rescue 134 fishermen from an ice floe in Lake Erie after it broke free and began drifting offshore in February 2009.

Additionally, during the winter months, Coast Guard crews are hard at work keeping shipping channels open and facilitating the flow of commerce. On an average year, Coast Guard icebreakers, cooperating seamlessly with our Canadian counterparts, allow for the movement of $2 billion in commerce by clearing ice-choked waterways.

Coast Guard buoytenders and aids-to-navigation teams also contribute to ensuring that maritime navigational aids are on station, marking mariners’ safe passage throughout the Great Lakes maritime transportation system.

On the Great Lakes today, more than 6,000 active-duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary members work closely with their Canadian counterparts to keep mariners safe, maintain border security, place and retrieve thousands of aids to navigation every year, and protect against pollution.

“From Lake of the Woods, Minn., to Massena, N.Y., the Guardians of the Great Lakes are proud to serve a region with such a distinct maritime heritage,” said Rear Adm. Mike Parks, the 9th Coast Guard District commander. “We are your friends and neighbors who protect you on the lakes, protect you from the lakes and protect the lakes themselves. That’s why there’s no better place to celebrate our service’s birthday than here on the Great Lakes.”

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