>CGD5 Chief of Prevention Visits Wilmington Area Coast Guard Units

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Recently, I’ve been visiting Fifth District units to get a better understanding of each unit’s missions and capabilities, area of responsibility, and general Prevention issues and concerns. On Friday, 25 Sep 09, I visited three Coast Guard units in North Carolina: MSU Wilmington, CGC SMILAX, and CGC BAYBERRY. Although I don’t normally take my camera to all my unit visits, I thought bringing a camera along would be a good idea this time since I was scheduled for an area familiarization ride down the Cape Fear River on board the BAYBERRY.

My morning began at MSU Wilmington where the Commanding Officer, CDR John Nadeau, and his crew, gave me a thorough unit brief and tour. One thing of particular note is that the MSU is situated in a great location—collocated with Customs & Border Patrol and ICE and near other (literally across the street) Federal agencies allowing for superior interagency coordination and cooperation in the region.

We also stopped in at the New Hanover County Courthouse to listen in on the line of questioning by Coast Guard investigators in a Coast Guard investigative hearing into the recent parasail accident that killed two women–it was quite somber but professional. Lots of news media interest.

As noon approached, and at the historic waterfront in downtown Wilmington, I met with the Commanding Officer and crew of the second oldest vessel in the Coast Guard’s inventory, the CGC SMILAX (WLIC-315). You can imagine that there is a lot history and stories behind the SMILAX since her commissioning on November 1, 1944. Understanding the challenges that aging ships bring, the current crew has done a wonderful job of keeping the SMILAX going and providing critical AtoN “point of service” delivery throughout the region. Lunch was served followed by a quick all hands. (Note: in the picture above, in front of the SMILAX, the CGC DILIGENCE (WMEC-616) is homported in Wilmington)

I then boarded the CGC BAYBERRY (WLI-65400), which was moored outside of the SMILAX. We quickly cast off all lines and departed on a two hour trip down the Cape Fear River en route to Oak Island Coast Guard Station, home port of the BAYBERRY.

CDR Nadeau made the transit with us and gave a running narration of the critical port infrastructure along the river.

Below are a few pictures of the trip:

Keeper of the Cape Fear…what a great motto!

BMC Christopher M. Groom (Officer in Charge of the BAYBERRY) keeping a watchful eye as BAYBERRY makes her way down the Cape Fear River.

To the crews of MSU Wilmington, CGC SMILAX, and CGC BAYBERRY, thank you for hosting me and especially your dedication and professionalism. Semper Paratus!

CAPT David C. Haynes
Chief of Prevention
Fifth Coast Guard District