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Florida Coast Guard forces deploying for Operation Enduring Freedom

Release No. 01-09
January 29, 2003

The Coast Guard is preparing eight 110-foot Island Class patrol boats and support personnel to deploy to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

Three of the eight patrol boats to be deployed will come from Florida -- Baranof (Miami Beach), Knight Island (St. Petersburg), Pea Island (St. Petersburg) -- and support personnel will include crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo, a 110-foot patrol boat from Key West, Fla., and Miami-based Tactical Law Enforcement Teams.

"These deployments reflect our contribution, as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, to total force readiness and our commitment to safeguarding our nation at home and abroad," said Rear Adm. Jay Carmichael, Coast Guard Seventh District Commander.

Coast Guard Atlantic Area Commander Vice Adm. James Hull ordered the deployment this week, as the United States repositions some of its military forces where required to support the President's global war on terrorism and to prepare for future contingencies. This deployment of Coast Guard patrol boats is consistent with the Coast Guard's small, yet important role as a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces in supporting the Department of Defense's Operation Enduring Freedom and the global war on terrorism.

These patrol boat crews regularly train in navigation, seamanship, weapons, law enforcement, damage control and first aid. This training helps prepare them to meet a wide array of Coast Guard missions on a daily basis. Additionally, these crews received tailored training in anti-terrorism/force protection, boarding team procedures, team damage control and firefighting, first aid, and chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) protection over the past several weeks throughout the Atlantic area in preparation for this deployment. These crews also completed a battery of medical exams, legal and administrative tasks needed to ensure their readiness for any contingency while deployed.

Approximately 600 Coast Guard members from cutters Wrangell (Maine), Adak (N.J.), Aquidneck (N.C.), Bainbridge Island (N.J.) Grande Isle (Mass.), Boutwell (Calif.), the Seventh District patrol boat crews, and 20 other commands will be deployed. Florida Coast Guard units will account for approximately 80 of the 600 members expected to deploy. The cutters will be placed on cradles and loaded on to Navy ships for transport overseas. The cutter crews and support unit personnel will fly over separately and meet the boats in the area of operations.

This is the first deployment of patrol boats overseas in support of DOD since the Vietnam War, when 56 Coast Guard combatants were used, 8,000 Coast Guard men and women served and Port Security and Waterways Detail members traveled throughout Vietnam to provide expertise and inspections to allow safe loading and off-loading of ammunition.

The 110-foot patrol boats being deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom were introduced in the late 1980s to replace the aging 95-foot Cape Class patrol boats and are known as the Island Class Cutters for being named after U.S. islands. There are currently 49 of them in the Coast Guard inventory. It is Coast Guard policy not to speculate on any other potential deployments or to provide specifics on dates of departure, duration, and destinations for operational security reasons.

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