Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

By Chris Philips
Managing Editor 

Inter-Service Cooperation


April 1, 2017

Earlier this year, when President Trump announced the addition of $54 billion in added Defense Department spending for the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps, the US Coast Guard was notable in its absence. Meanwhile, many, including Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft and Alaska State Senator Dan Sullivan, were rightfully concerned that cuts in the Department of Homeland Security would strip the Coast Guard of much needed operating capital.

In late March, however, the Homeland Security Department confirmed that the White House’s budget amendment for fiscal 2017 and budget blueprint for fiscal 2018 would sustain current funding levels for the Coast Guard, allowing for the continuation of day-to-day operations, acquisitions, construction and improvements.

Among those improvements are much-needed new vessels, one of which was recently commissioned for West Coast service.

On April 1st, the US Coast Guard officially commissioned its sixth National Security Cutter in a ceremony at Seattle’s Pier 91. On hand to welcome the 418-foot Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) were Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft and Alaska State Senator Dan Sullivan, as well as hundreds of Coast Guard personnel and their families.

The USCGC Munro was named for Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro (1919 – 1942), who was mortally wounded on Guadalcanal while helping save the lives of almost 500 Marines.

After volunteering for the mission, Munro led five small plywood Higgins troop transport boats to shore under heavy enemy fire. As he closed the beach, he signaled the others to land, and then, in order to draw the enemy’s fire and protect the heavily loaded boats, he placed his craft as a shield between the beachhead and the Japanese. When the evacuation was nearly completed, Munro was killed by enemy fire. For his bravery, Munro was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor – the only Coast Guard recipient ever to receive the honor.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary and retired Marine Corps general John Kelly was unable to attend the commissioning of the Munro, but sent his well wishes to those participating in the commissioning. In 2010, Kelly’s 29-year-old son, Marine First Lieutenant Robert Kelly, was killed in action in Afghanistan. Kelly’s other son is a Marine Corps Major.

Senator Sullivan is also a Marine, and currently serves in the US Marine Corps Reserve.

Another notable Marine, Republican California Congressman Duncan Hunter, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee. Hunter has recommended moving management of the Coast Guard from the Homeland Security Department to the Defense Department to better shield the service from potential spending reductions in the future.

“Over time, the Coast Guard’s mission importance has not been properly recognized or advocated for,” Hunter wrote to President Trump in Mid-March, “as demonstrated by years of underfunded budget requests, and perhaps most clearly, by this year’s grossly inadequate proposed Office of Management and Budget (OMB) funding guidance.”

Hunter says the Coast Guard deserves to be housed in a department that recognizes the importance of its mission, and has the capabilities to properly advocate for greatly needed resources.

The Coast Guard was transferred from the US Department of Transportation to the newly-formed US Department of Homeland Security in 2003. We agree with Rep. Hunter that the Coast Guard deserves a more secure budget and operating environment, and hope the White House agrees.

Chris Philips can be reached at: 206-284-8285 or email:


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