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

PortandTerminal.com, 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. 

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

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. 

READ: Hurricane DORIAN: Port closures update and latest images

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. 

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