The Pacific Area command is the regional Coast Guard element responsible for carrying out Coast Guard missions across the Pacific Rim. The Pacific Area commander, Vice Admiral Ernest Riutta, also serves as commander of the Eleventh District, Maritime Defense Zone Pacific and the Regional Emergency Transportation Coordinator. Operations, telecommunications, planning and intelligence functions are performed from the Pacific Area staff offices. Our operations are focused on meeting the Coast Guard's five Strategic goals of safety, protection of natural resources, mobility, maritime security, and national defense.
The area command itself is located in Alameda, Calif., on Coast Guard Island on the East side of San Francisco Bay. The Pacific Area region of responsibility encompasses the maritime states of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii, and extends from the North to the South Poles and across the Pacific to Asia -- a total of nearly 74 million square miles.
Coast Guard operations in Pacific Area cover a broad range, including search and rescue, servicing aids to navigation, response to oil and hazardous chemical spills, inspecting commercial vessels for safety and environmental regulations compliance, interdiction of illegal narcotics and migrants, and enforcement of fisheries management laws.
The United States Coast Guard's presence in the Pacific began in 1848 when the Revenue Cutter Lawrence arrived in San Francisco as the federal government's representative. Tasked with acting as judge and customs agent and whatever else was necessary, the Lawrence and her crew set about to maintain order during the chaotic period of the California gold rush. Along with the large influx of people coming west to the San Francisco Bay area, came lawlessness, smugglers and abandoned ships.
Over this past year, Coast Guard Pacific Area team members responded to over 10,000 calls for help and saved nearly 1,300 lives in peril. We were challenged by, and responded to, more than 5,000 oil and hazardous material spills that threatened the marine environment.
Our fleet of buoy tenders and aids to navigation teams effectively serviced more than 6,000 floating and fixed aids to navigation. We placed into service 4 Differential Global Positing Satellite sites that, in conjunction with our Long-Range Aids To Navigation system, permitted the safe transit and mobility through our ports. These ports and waterways have an ever-increasing number of deep draft cargo vessels arriving and departing every day carrying our nations vital commercial goods.
Our icebreakers, Polar Sea and Polar Star, travel 20,000 mile from Seattle to clear the shipping lanes for scientific research and logistic vessels in Antarctica.
Illegal entrance into the United States of drugs, undocumented migrants and other contraband keeps our law enforcement mission at the forefront of national concern. We patrolled the waters of the central Pacific, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, protecting our vital fish stocks, enforcing U.S. and international fishing treaties and ensuring the integrity of our Exclusive Economic Zone.
We worked closely with other federal agencies to increase our maritime security, seizing 8 vessels laden with marijuana and cocaine and cutting off maritime routes to the U.S. used by other drug traffickers. We intercepted the freighter, La Pas Number 3, as it attempted to illegally bring 69 Chinese immigrants into the United States.
We are sworn to defend the nation as a member of the five armed services. We worked with the United States Navy carrying out coastal warfare missions deploying our Port Security Unit 311 and the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton to Korea for Operation Foal Eagle.
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