The Coast Guard is known for saving lives at sea, but did you know the service plays a huge role in the economy, too?
As a regulatory entity, the Coast Guard conducts marine inspections on vessels entering United States ports to make sure the vessels do not pose a safety, security, or environmental threat to the country. With 90% of U.S. imports and exports entering or exiting the country by ship, these inspections ensure there is fuel at the gas station, food in the store and presents at birthday parties.
But even before a ship ever gets in the water, the Coast Guard is behind the scenes working to make it ready for sea. Coast Guard marine inspectors work in tandem with ship builders in the United States to ensure the vessels are both safe for the workers and for operation in the maritime environment. In fact, they are executing this mission in Philadelphia, where workers are constructing the largest container ships ever built in the United States right now for Honolulu-based Matson Navigation Company.
As a ship is built, like the 850-foot Daniel K. Inouye in Philadelphia Shipyards, the Coast Guard and the industry members work together. They review architectural plans for the ship, monitor the laying of its keel, and observe the installation of lifesaving and engineering systems. These efforts ensure a safe working environment for mariners and validate the integrity of the vessel.
“For the Coast Guard, ship construction like this in the United States gives us the opportunity to work with the maritime industry members,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Doherty, Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay Chief of Inspections. “The added benefit of the Coast Guard beyond building relations with American shipbuilders is that it gives us an opportunity to train our inspectors during the process of ship construction, which will benefit them throughout their prevention career.”
Doherty, who oversees the team of Coast Guard marine inspectors who evaluate safety and security of ships throughout southern New Jersey, Delaware and eastern Pennsylvania, says that involving the Coast Guard ensures the safety of life at sea for workers but also that of the ports and waterways of the United States by keeping them clean from pollution and unobstructed. Doherty says the having the Daniel K. Inouye built nearby has a local benefit as well.
“Building this ship in Philadelphia is a huge deal for the surrounding region,” said Doherty. “When ships are built here it gives life to the shipyard, local area and maritime community.”