Coast Guard brand 'way up,' Zukunft says in annual address

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The following is a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(WASHINGTON) — Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, delivered the State of the Coast Guard address Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

This was Zukunft's final State of the Coast Guard address, as he will retire June 1 following the commandant's change of command.

The commandant highlighted achievements of the Coast Guard's work force during the 2017 hurricane season, one of the nation's most catastrophic on record. During three back-to-back storms, the men and women of the Coast Guard saved nearly 12,000 Americans. Among those impacted by the hurricanes, he said, were 700 Coast Guard families who lost their homes in the storms.

Zukunft also called attention to the Coast Guard's work protecting the homeland, describing the service's work in interdicting $7.2 billion worth of cocaine on the seas before it could reach the shores of the U.S. He also mentioned the Coast Guard referred 606 smugglers to the U.S. Department of Justice in the last fiscal year and how evidence the service obtained during these counternarcotic operations helped the Coast Guard's partners at the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations disrupt transnational criminal networks, illustrating how the Coast Guard's whole-of-government approach advances security and prosperity for the nation.

The commandant also announced the Sexual Assault Prevention and Recovery Strategic Plan will include a specific focus on victim recovery, saying that while he requires every senior member of the service to emulate a culture of respect, "every single one of us shares this quintessential responsibility."

Click here for a transcript of the commandant's speech. The following is an excerpt:

"In the past, we’ve characterized the state of the Coast Guard in a metaphor – one that has often cast a shadow on our Service — “dull knife,” “curse of Semper Paratus,” uncertain and stormy seas …” Metaphors that do not illuminate the great deeds of the men and women of our service.

"Last year I stated that, for a service that punches above its weight class, it’s high time we were budgeted accordingly. Quite honestly, we had a flyweight class budget so there was only one way to punch — but up!

"More recently, I directed my senior leaders to abandon a do-or-die suicide squeeze bunt stance when it comes to building our budget and approach the plate by swinging for the fences. Seize the initiative.

"Today, I am here to report that, thanks to this Congress and this administration, we have hit our stride, and to quote our commander in chief, President Trump, 'no brand has gone up like the Coast Guard brand … incredible people that have done an incredible job.'

"I couldn’t agree more. The Coast Guard brand is up — way up! In fact, to say that the state of the Coast Guard is strong would be an understatement."

By Professional Mariner Staff