Boaters Beware: Government shutdown begins eroding Coast Guard operations

01-10-19 uscg ft. myers beachThe US Coast Guard station at Fort Myers Beach. (Photo: USCG)

Jan. 10, 2019, by David Silverberg

The US Coast Guard remains on duty in Southwest Florida waters but the government shutdown is having an effect on some of its non-core missions.

“The Coast Guard continues operations authorized by law that provide for national security or that protect life and property during partial government shutdowns; however, there are some impacts to our day-to-day operations. The Coast Guard stops or curtails mission activities that do not fall into those categories,” Michael De Nyse, a Coast Guard public affairs specialist based in Clearwater, stated in response to questions from The Paradise Progressive.

Coast Guard operations are critical for boaters and maritime safety. The service conducts search and rescue missions, assists boaters in distress and enforces maritime rules and regulations. Other missions essential to safe water operations include maintaining channel markets and navigation aids.

The Coast Guard also interdicts drugs and contraband, prevents illegal migration and enforces environmental rules and regulations.

In Southwest Florida, the Coast Guard has operated a station in Ft. Myers Beach since 1972. Because it is part of the Department of Homeland Security it is affected by the government shutdown.

Despite uncertainty whether they will miss their first paycheck on Dec. 15, Coast Guard personnel continue working.

“Coast Guard uniformed personnel will continue to perform their duties during a partial government shutdown and will provide essential services such as search and rescue, port and homeland safety and security, law enforcement and environmental response,” wrote De Nyse.

“We don’t know how long the government shutdown will last, but we have a plan to maintain the essential safety, security, and environmental protection services the public expects from the Coast Guard,” he continued. “We will continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, adjust our operations to ensure national security and to protect life and property.”

While operations are continuing, the shutdown is having an impact on Coast Guard families. In a five page tip sheet to Coast Guard civilian employees called Managing Your Finances During a Furlough, the service recommended cutting expenses, creating a budget, prioritizing spending, contacting creditors and tapping into community resources.

It also recommended earning outside money through such means as holding garage sales, baby or house sitting, pet walking, tutoring, turning hobbies into income or becoming a mystery shopper.

When the memo came to media attention today it was taken down.

Perhaps the most poignant and personal description of the hardships being imposed on Coast Guard families came in an essay titled “This Senseless Government Shutdown Is Harming Coast Guard Families,” by former Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Thad Allen, which was published on the website of the magazine Naval Proceedings.

Today marks the 20th day of President Donald Trump’s government shutdown.

Liberty lives in light

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