The U.S. Coast Guard’s
role in Operation Iraqi Freedom is significant. Some 650 Coasties-men
and women-are currently deployed in the Persian Gulf aboard four patrol
boats, a high-endurance cutter, a buoy tender, two law-enforcement detachments,
two security units, and a harbor-defense unit.
In preparation for a
story that will appear in the June issue of PMY about the war-time
Coast Guard, Senior Editor Capt. Bill Pike is embedded with various Coast
Guard units and vessels in the Northern Gulf. He talks with Petty Officer
Scott Titilah aboard the 110-foot patrol boat Aquidneck (right),
home-ported in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. The Aquidneck’s
primary job over the past three weeks has been to patrol Iraq’s ports
and coastline and conduct maritime interdiction operations. To accomplish
this mission takes nerve, firepower, and considerable navigational skill.
“It gets really tense patrolling the rivers at night,” says
Titilah. “Buoys are either blown up or off station, and the water's
heavily littered with wrecked ships and other vessels, some from the last
war. Much of it, of course, can potentially serve as staging areas for
terrorist attacks of one kind or another.”
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