News: Station New Orleans: Protecting the gateway to global commerce
Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Tippets
NEW ORLEANS - America is currently besieged by a very particular fear. It is a fear of not enough, a universal fear. It is a fear of not enough money and not enough jobs. It is a fear for the future.
With many television programs constantly bombarding viewers with commentary on the nation’s economic crisis, words and phrases like debt, fiscal cliff, unemployment and most recently budget restrictions have been branded into the American psyche.
In the gathering darkness of the nation’s financial situation, a local light shines. It shines not only on local and national levels, but also on the world’s stage. One of the original missions of the Coast Guard was keeping America’s lighthouses in working condition. Times haven’t changed so much. The Coast Guard still keeps America’s lighthouses running, only now, it is a financial lighthouse.
The Port of New Orleans is an economic powerhouse. For the 2012 fiscal year, the port’s total revenue was $48.5 million, a number expected to be exceeded in 2013.
The port is also the only U.S. seaport served by all six Class 1 railroads, which means that anything coming into the port can go nearly anywhere in the country. With top trade lanes such as the American Midwest, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, the port operates at a global level.
Another mode of transportation once goods reach the port is the Mississippi River.
“A 14,500-mile inland waterway system awaits cargo arriving at the Port of New Orleans,” said Matt Gresham, director of external affairs at the Port of New Orleans. “This system of river and navigation channels can reach Pittsburgh, Chicago, Kansas City and points in between.”
The port and river system act as a conduit for American commerce, a conduit regularly patrolled by the Coast Guard.
Coast Guard Station New Orleans is one of the Coast Guard’s first lines of defense for safety on the Mississippi River.
Conducting maritime critical infrastructure key resource patrols regularly and logging around 1,500 boat hours on the water a year, Station New Orleans is doing its part to keep commerce flowing.
“These patrols are important to the city of New Orleans,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Kenneth Cholak, a boatswains mate at Station New Orleans. “We deter possible terror attacks when we do our escorts on the Mississippi River. We show the public that we are up to any challenge when tasked with a mission.”
The crew of a Coast Guard 25-foot Response Boat – Small from Station New Orleans practice high-speed maneuvers as part of a training evolution, Jan. 17, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Lehmann.
The Port of New Orleans not only generates massive amounts of money, it also generates jobs.
“The port directly or indirectly supports 160, 498 jobs in Louisiana,” said Gresham. “On the federal level, an estimated 380,000 jobs are dependent upon the cargo handled at the port.”
With so much money and jobs dependent on the port, the Coast Guard brings a measure of reassurance to the nation.
“These patrols are vital to justify our jobs as Coast Guardsmen,” said Cholak. “When we patrol, we deter criminal mischief and any wrong doings someone may do to the resources. By showing what we do on the river, the public can rest assured we are constantly patrolling.”
There are many unanswered questions regarding America’s future. There will always be uncertainty and doubt regarding the economy. Out of all of the uncertainty, there will always be a constant: Coast Guard men and women doing their duty-protecting our country, protecting our waterways and protecting our resources.