Coast Guard Stations Could Close

Of the 173 active U.S. Coast Guard stations, approximately 85 are redundant, and could be closed to help reduce the National Debt. The Guard has 74 bases on the Atlantic, spanning 2,069 miles, 23 in the Gulf of Mexico, spread over 1,631 miles, 28 on the Pacific, from San Diego to Seattle, and 42 in the Great Lakes.

The original purpose of the Coast Guard, in 1790, was to help stamp out piracy. Their duties expanded in the 1800s, as shipping by sea grew to be the primary carrier for commerce and business. At one time, 350 lighthouses were manned by the Guard.

During the second half of the 20th Century, technology made the existence of a large number of coastal stations obsolete. Advanced communications and helicopters changed the nature of rescue at sea operations, and reduced the need for as many ships and ports.

Most Coast Guard facilities however, built in the mid to late 1800s, still remain open, thanks to pork-barrel politics. Proof that a great number of bases are no longer needed can be found in our newest states. Alaska, which has a general coastline of 5,580 miles, has only 3 stations. Hawaii, with 750 miles of shore to patrol, has just two ports. Puerto Rico, our territory in the hurricane belt, gets by using just a single outpost.

The Guard could continue to serve their purposes with roughly one facility for every 100 miles of coastline. If this rule was implemented, facilities could be closed in nearly every area:

15 could be decommissioned in New England:
Maine, with 230 miles of shore, could close 4 of 6 stations.
New Hampshire (13 miles) doesn’t have a base, or need one.
Vermont (landlocked) should shut down the one they have.
Massachusetts (192 miles) could shed 8 of 10 facilities.
Rhode Island (40 miles) may retain one, but terminate 2 others.
Connecticut (166 miles) could preserve the training station at Groton as well as the Coast Guard Academy at New London.

19 could be eliminated along the Northeastern Atlantic:
New York (127 miles) could cancel 6 of 8, sparing the Staten Island base, and the Brooklyn Air Station.
New Jersey (130 miles) should unload 8 of 10.
Pennsylvania (not on ocean) could close their Philly area base.
Delaware (28 miles) could maintain the one they have.
Maryland (31 miles) could keep Baltimore’s, while vacating four.
The DC Coast Guard Headquarters would remain.

11 on the South could be boarded up:
Virginia (112 miles) could get by with 1 of the 3 they have.
North Carolina (301 miles) should close 7 of 10.
South Carolina (187 miles) could maintain the two they have.
Georgia (100 miles) should give up 2 of 3.
Florida (580 Atlantic miles) can keep their 6 on the east coast.

6 bases in the Gulf of Mexico could be closed.
Florida (770 miles) could function with 8, including the facility at St. Petersburg, while closing down 4 others.
Alabama (53 miles) could keep the one base they have.
Mississippi (44 miles), doesn’t need 2; one has to go.
Louisiana (397 miles), with only 3 stations, can maintain theirs.
Texas (367 miles) should terminate 1 of their 5.

14 on the West Coast can be vacated:
California (840 miles) can eliminate five, and continue with 8, including the San Diego Air Station, and the Alameda base.
Oregon (296 miles) closes 4, while covering 296 miles with just 3.
Washington (157 miles) doesn’t need eight; five should get the ax.

20 bases could be shut down on the Great Lakes:
New York could retain the 3 they have on Lake Ontario, to patrol a 331-mile Canadian border.
New York on Lake Eire (77 miles) would have to unload 1 of 2.
Pennsylvania on Lake Eire (51 miles) could maintain their base.
Ohio on Lake Eire (312 miles) needs to board up 6 of 9 stations.
Michigan on Lake Huron can keep 3 of 6 along roughly 300 miles of Canadian border.
Michigan on the east side of Lake Michigan (354 miles) doesn’t need 5 of 9 stations, as they have no international duties.
Indiana on Lake Michigan (43 miles) could keep their base.
Wisconsin on Lake Michigan’s west shore (245 miles) could get by with 3 of their 7 stations.
Illinois on Lake Michigan (63 miles) says good-bye to 1 of 2.
Michigan’s 2 stations on Lake Superior, covering 208 miles of U.S. Border, would both be spared
Wisconsin on Lake Superior (108 miles) could retain their base.
Minnesota keeps 1 on Superior to guard 150 miles of north shore.

Once government opens facilities, politicians fight to keep them, whether they continue to serve any purpose or not. If conservatives are serious about reducing the National Debt, they should take the lead and close roughly 85 unnecessary Coast Guard stations.

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