Florence Rotary Club members learn about the Coast Guard

May 7, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – May is National Military Appreciation Month, and the Florence Rotary Club welcomed as its guests on Monday members of the U.S. Coast Guard from Charleston.

Guest speaker Capt. John W. Reed, USCG, sector commander, Charleston, brought with him Senior Chief Kody Fraughton, command senior enlisted leader; Commander Matthew Baer, chief of response; Lt. Commander Maureen Hegerich, logistics officer; and Lt. J.B. Zorn, senior investigations officer.

Reed, a native of California and a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, said the Coast Guard is the least understood branch of the U.S. Armed Forces because of various responsibilities.

The Coast Guard is the United States’ maritime first responder. Its major responsibilities are safety, security and stewardship.

The Coast Guard is responsible for the safety of maritime vessels and facilitates. It helps facilitate commerce, making sure ships are safe and get in and out of ports on time, said Bear.

Its job is protecting the United States from threats at sea, protecting the sea and those who work on the sea, Reed said.

“My team responds when things go wrong,” Baer said.

Zorn said his group helps when there is a problem at sea, investigates and tries to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Baer said the Coast Guard Command Center is operating 24/7, standing by to help with search and rescues, to respond to mariners in distress.

He said they operate on Channel 16, which is the maritime equivalent to 911 calls in emergencies. He said when a radio call comes in, the Coast Guard dispatches its resources.

Maritime security has changed since 9/11, he said.

Their job is protecting the nation’s Marine Transportation System (MTS). They do inspections, patrols, escorts and joint operations. They also partner with federal, state, local agencies, maritime industry and pertinent nonprofits and nongovernmental agencies on Maritime security.

Zorn said they respond to security threats here and overseas.

Maritime stewardship includes protecting the sea and its resources. They deal with environmental issues that include invasive species prevention, pollution response and fisheries enforcement. To assist in doing this, the Coast Guard partners with other federal, state, local and tribal governments, maritime industry and nongovernmental agencies.

With fisheries, they make sure that boats have proper tags and the waters are not overfished.

Hegerich said her job deals with personnel.

“I love taking care of people,” she said, and she likes seeing people be able to perform their jobs.

In his job, Reed said he is challenged with identifying the next” big risk” and where to put his resources in order to find something that has the potential of becoming a catastrophe.