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often distracting their attention away from their jobs. Also, I believe it has a serious negative impact on Coast Guard recruiting and retention.
Mr. Chairman, as I conclude my statement, I ask you to think about the many Coast Guard men and women you have met during field trips. They are enthusiastic, well trained, and ready to give any task their best effort. Some will even make the ultimate sacrifice, just as LT Jeffrey Crain, LTJG Charles Thigpen, AM3 Richard Hughes, and ASM3 James Caines did on June 8, 1997. They were all crew members of Coast Guard helicopter number 6549 which was lost attempting to rescue the crew of a disabled sailing vessel in storm-ravaged seas 57 miles off Cape Mendocino, California
The American people depend on the Coast Guard, knowing it will be Semper Paratus, when needed. However, without our enlisted men and women, the Coast Guard's capability would cease to exist. Attracting and retaining the best workforce America has to offer is more difficult today, but never more important. Therefore, I hope you will give serious consideration to the needs of Coast Guard enlisted men and women that I have outlined today.
As Dr. Pary, formar Secretary of Defense said, “if you take care of your people, they will take care of you." I am convinced this committee can have a positive impact on Coast Guard man and women, as well as Coast Guard recruiting and retention. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet with you and the other distinguished members of this Subcommittee and to represent the over 34,000 men and women volunteers of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.
As you remember, in 1996 your Subcommittee supported a change to the legislation regarding the Auxiliary, which was included in the Coast Guard Authorization Act. This granted the Commandant broad authority in using the Auxiliary and provided adequate liability protection to Auxiliarists performing these new missions. Since then, the Auxiliary has moved aggressively to support the Coast Guard's missions.
We have recently adopted a vision statement for the Auxiliary, which encompasses these new opportunities for service and supports the Commandant's Vision Statement for the Coast Guard.
Our vision is to:
• Be the world's premier volunteer marine safety organization, a valued component of
TEAM COAST GUARD.
• Lead in cahancing and promoting Recreational Boating Safety.
• Delight our customers both as individuals and as The Auxiliary with dedicated service to
the nation and to the Coast Guard missions and responsibilities assigned to our
• In all we do: reflect the core values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty; recognize
our proud traditions and worthy missions; maintain our commitmeat to diversity, and support for our membership; always remaining Semper Paratus.
Last year, one of the first steps we took to implement the new legislation was to create a new staff organization, the Department of Marine Safety and Environmental Protection. We worked closely with the Coast Guard and our field units to develop and implement programs to assist the Coast Guard in communications, safety and security patrols, remote area inspections, vessel factory visits, uninspected passenger vessel safety examinations, commercial fishing vessel safety examinations, licensing exam administration, spill reconnaissance and sampling, and public affairs.
In support of this mission various courses were conducted to certify Auxiliary instructors in the Sea Partners Course, a marine environmental outreach education program, for presentation in schools throughout the nation. Subsequently, Auxiliary units throughout the nation began offering this instruction to the schools within their local area. Over the past several years, Auxiliarists have successfully promoted fishing vessel safety by offering voluntary dockside commercial fishing vessel examinations. In 1997, a similar program was developed and implemented for uninspected passenger vessels used mainly for fishing charters. Additionally, a total of 265 marine environmental protection related patrols were conducted.
In 1997, Auxiliarists provided 5,921 operational vessels, 114 aircraft, and 2,336 radio stations to support various Coast Guard missions, as well as other federal agency and state-requested missions. We work side-by-side with members of these organizations in accomplishing these missions. Several excellent examples of this occurred in 1997. The first, when over 60 Auxiliarists from the Eighth Coast Guard District were called out to support the emergency flood response operation along the Ohio River and to assist in watchstanding at the State of Ohio Emergency Operations Center. The second occurred again in the Eighth District when a large number of Auxiliarists from 4 divisions supported flood relief operations along the Red River of the North in North Dakota. Auxiliarists provided the Coast Guard with mobile communications and command capability. Auxiliary aviation support provided reconnaissance flights and moved personnel and supplies into areas not accessible by land vehicles. Additionally, Auxiliary crews manned a Disaster Relief Unit and worked side-by-side with regular and Reserve Coast Guard
personnel. The Auxiliarists who took over as Coast Guard personnel followed the flood down river seamlessly fit into the team and continued to provide support to the flood victims with no problems or degradation in support. The ability of the Auxiliary to quickly provide trained personnel during contingency or surge operational periods is a key mission for the Auxiliary which ensures the availability of active duty Coast Guard resources to meet other mission requirements.
1997 was a very busy year for the Auxiliary in other mission areas as well. In support of the Coast Guard goal to reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage associated with maritime transportation, fishing, and recreational boating, we provided a trained force of 10,626 instructors, who teach boating safety courses. Also, we provided 8,434 vessel examiners, who perform voluntary safety examinations on recreational vessels, including personal watercraft. We also provided 15,910 boat crew and coxswains who provide safety patrols, search and rescue, and other maritime support missions. In addition, 337 Auxiliary pilots and 561 air observers supported various Coast Guard missions.
Last year, we instructed almost 570,000 students in boating safety classes, many of which were under 16 years of age. A new one-lesson personal watercraft course was implemented to improve the safe operation of these craft, a high percentage of which are operated by teenagers. A new course, "The Skipper's Course," designed as a non-classroom course, was made available to boaters who do not have the time to take a regular course. We also continue to successfully utilize the "PFD Panda" program, developed by the State of Minnesota. This program encourages children to wear personal floatation devices and has been credited with saving the lives of small children on boats.
We conducted courtesy safety examinations on more than 175,000 recreational boats, including some 9,352 personal watercraft. While the number of PWC given courtesy examinations is low, we expect to see a growth in 1998 and in future years as PWC owners come to recognize the benefits of an annual courtesy safety check. Also recently implemented was a new program targeting the safety of rental personal watercraft. The voluntary dockside commercial fishing