U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft delivered the 2017 State of the Coast Guard Address at the National Press Club on Thursday.
This was Zukunft's third State of the Coast Guard Address, and he emphasized the service as a unique instrument of national security.
First and foremost an armed service, the Coast Guard is the only branch of the U.S. armed forces that has broad law enforcement authorities and a portfolio of more than 60 bi-lateral agreements that extend around the globe, Zukunft said. The service also secures thousands of miles of maritime borders in the United States in addition to advancing maritime commerce and economic security, he added.
Zukunft spoke of the Coast Guard's past year and provided a roster of achievements including working to deliver the first heavy icebreaker by 2023, standing up the Arctic Coast Guard Forum with coast guards of eight Arctic Council nations and recent accomplishments of cutters on patrol interdicting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs that didn't make it to the shores of the United States.
Speaking of fleet-building achievements, he said “We awarded Phase II to complete build out of our fleet of 58 Fast Response Cutters – at an affordable price – and the last four, numbers 19 through 22, were delivered by Bollinger Shipyards with zero discrepancies.
“We awarded the landmark acquisition for the first nine Offshore Patrol Cutters to Eastern Shipbuilding Group, a down payment for our program of record of 25 of these capable platforms that meet our requirements – all at an affordable price.
“We awarded long lead-time materials to Huntington Ingalls Shipyard for a ninth National Security Cutter. As global threats emerge, this program of record has grown from eight to nine to meet that demand,” he said.
“We are moving in the right direction! We are ‘bulking up!’ The Coast Guard is recapitalizing at a pace that has not been seen since Alexander Hamilton approved the construction of 10 revenue cutters back in 1790, and I am immensely pleased with the pace that has been set. And it is critical to our nation's security that we sustain this pace.”
The transcript is available here.