Crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf Deploys Without Pay

USCG file image

Published Jan 21, 2019 4:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

Despite lack of pay due to the ongoing government shutdown, the Coast Guard is still on duty. On Monday, the National Security Cutter Bertholf departed for an unspecified mission in the Western Pacific. In years past, the crew of the Bertholf has primarily been deployed in support of anti-smuggling patrols off the coast of Central and South America. 

"These are incredibly dedicated individuals who live what it means to be selfless and to serve and to sacrifice for their country," said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area. "I know it’s hard for these crews to be leaving behind their dependents and spouses. It’s a thousand times more so when everybody’s wondering when their next paycheck will be and how they can support the family they are leaving behind . . . the tension and the anxiety for the crew is real."

Legislative fix moves forward

Support for Sen. John Thune's Pay Our Coast Guard Act of 2019 is growing, and the bill now has 25 co-sponsors from both parties. The act proposes to fund the U.S. Coast Guard at normal levels while talks on other appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security continue. 

Negotiations over $5.7 billion in funding for the Trump administration's proposed border wall have largely stalled, with little sign of compromise as the shutdown enters its 31st day. The lapse in appropriations affects 800,000 federal employees, including 42,000 active-duty servicemembers of the U.S. Coast Guard. It is the longest shutdown in U.S. history, and the first to leave any members of the military without their pay. In addition, if the lapse continues through the end of January, Coast Guard retirees will not receive their Feb. 1 pension payment. The gap would affect about 50,000 retired personnel.