Day in and day out, 365 days a year, the brave members of the US Coast Guard serve us in the areas of defence, maritime law, safety and security, environmental protection, search and rescue, and more essential services for our country. The US Coast Guard - Sector Columbia River is our #13 reason to Love the Lower Columbia.
One of the most visible and critical services the Coast Guard provides for the lower Columbia River is search and rescue missions. The Columbia River Bar, in particular, is a challenging environment, earning it the historical monicker "the graveyard of the Pacific." We are so thankful for the Coast Guard's lifesaving service on Veterans Day and every day of the year! See a clip of them in a rescue crew in action:
In 2019 alone, Sector Columbia River:
- Responded to 1,008 search and rescue cases, saving or assisting 1,374 lives and saving over $50.3M in property from being destroyed or lost at sea
- Permitted over 100 marine events in the federal waterways
- Investigated 187 marine casualties and 311 reports of pollution
We asked Petty Officer Cynthia Oldham from Sector Columbia River about what tip she would share with boaters before they head out on the water.
Be prepared! Have everything you need (food, water, a reliable means of commination, LIFEJACKETS, knowledge of current weather reports, a PLAN!) ahead of your trip will help set you up for a safe and nice time on the water. Too often people head out on the water with limited knowledge of their boat, or not knowing what to do in an emergency, or being unaware of water and weather conditions. Planning ahead of time is the best way to ensure you and everyone aboard your boat makes it home safely. Making sure that someone on shore knows where you plan to go and when you plan to be home (ie, a float plan) is also critical. If you are not back to shore when you said you would be, then responders have a starting point in their search to find you.
Also - VERY important! WEAR your lifejacket. Just having a life jacket onboard in not enough. Trying to put on your life jacket during an emergency is like trying to put on a seatbelt during a car wreck. Wear your lifejacket! Even great swimmers can hit their heads and become disoriented rendering them unable to swim.
Special staff note: the Estuary Partnership has two Coast Guard veterans on staff: Chris Sutherland and director E. Elaine Placido. Navy veterans on our team are Alvey Seeyouma (Hopi-Tewa) and Sarah Russo.
A branch of the US Military under the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard has served in all our nation's wars and conflicts, and members deploy and serve around the world. The US Coast Guard - Sector Columbia River has about 450 Active Duty, 80 Reserve, 25 Civilian, 270 Auxiliary members serving. The Sector serves 420 miles of coastal Oregon and southern Washington, as well as the 33 ports in the Columbia, Willamette, and Snake river systems. Since 1964, Section Columbia River has been headquartered in nearby Warrenton.