- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Coast Guard may be the smallest branch of the military, but it has a substantial presence in the national capital region.

The Coast Guard’s motto is “Semper Paratus,” which is Latin for “Always Ready.”

To be always ready to protect the area around the nation’s capital, the Coast Guard maintains an air station, seven small-boat rescue stations, aids-to-navigation teams, the service’s only shipyard, and numerous units reporting to Coast Guard Headquarters in Buzzard Point.

Liaison personnel are assigned to billets throughout the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Transportation Department and the intelligence community.

In September 2006, the Coast Guard assumed the mission of defending the skies over Washington against low-flying, slow-moving aircraft in restricted airspace. The Coast Guard flies HH-65 Dolphin helicopters out of its station at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

One of the small-boat stations is at Bolling Air Force Base. Small-boat stations perform the bulk of the Coast Guard’s search-and-rescue missions, which many call the Coast Guard’s “bread and butter.”

Aids-to-navigation teams in Baltimore, Crisfield and Potomac are responsible for maintaining and positioning buoys and other navigation aids to facilitate maritime traffic in the region. The Baltimore team maintains more than 400 aids to navigation in the Upper Chesapeake Bay.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard is southeast of Baltimore and is the Coast Guard’s only public shipyard. It is also home to tenant commands, such as Coast Guard Sector Baltimore, which oversees small-boat stations and aids-to-navigation teams.

In Alexandria is the Telecommunication and Information Systems Command, home to the Coast Guard’s Ceremonial Honor Guard and the Navigation Center.

The Intelligence Coordination Center, which is responsible for the Coast Guard’s strategic intelligence, is located in Suitland at the National Maritime Intelligence Center.

Arlington is home to the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Personnel Service Center.

The National Maritime Center and Operations Systems Center are in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Falling Waters, W.Va., is home to the National Vessel Documentation Center.

c Jim Dolbow is a lieutenant in the Coast Guard Reserve and a student at the Institute of World Politics in Washington.

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