Coast Guard stresses need for more funding: ‘We need to be made whole’

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) – The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard made an appeal to lawmakers Wednesday for a much-needed increase in funding to sustain the strain placed on their resources created by the 2017 hurricane season.

The Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard held a hearing Wednesday with the purpose of examining the role of the Coast Guard in preparing for these natural disasters.

Chairman of the Subcommittee Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, opened the meeting by addressing the work of the Coast Guard during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

“The recent hurricanes that have made landfall this year, have significantly stretched the coast guards service capabilities,” Sullivan said. “In these three disasters alone, the Coast Guard has rescued 11,000 Americans utilizing 95 aircraft, 55 cutters, 129 rescue craft, and mobilized at least 3,000 additional personnel.”

Ranking Member Sen. Gary Peters, D- Mich., cautioned the 2017 hurricane season is just one season and that “winter is coming,” borrowing the phrase from HBO hit show “Game of Thrones.”

“I want to emphasize that the coast guard’s missions will not stop because the weather is getting colder,” Peters said. “If we do not ensure that service members have the right equipment. If we do not ensure that they are being taken care of in terms of retirement and medical benefits then we are not doing our job.”

During the testimony of U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft, he explained that the recent extreme weather response was truly an “all-hands-on-deck” campaign that cost them in terms of readiness, opportunity and monetarily.

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