9/11 Twenty Years Ago

Below is the Commandant’s message marking the 20th Anniversary of this attack, that so changed the Nation and the Coast Guard.

Frankly, I do not see that the Coast Guard is really prepared to counter a well planned terrorist attack conducted from the sea. A tiny fraction of the money spent in Afghanistan and Iraq could close this gap. We need to be better armed and more capable of stopping an attack, regardless of the size of the attacking vessel, using forces regularly assigned in each port.

Let the Coast Guard response be, “Never again, Not on our watch.”

united states coast guard

R 101030Z SEP 21
ALCOAST 324/21
SSIC 5700
1. On the morning of 11 September 2001, nineteen terrorists took
control of four cross-country commercial aircraft, weaponizing the
planes and steering them into the World Trade Center Twin Towers
in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. On the fourth
plane, believed to be headed toward the U.S. Capitol or the White
House, a brave band of passengers and crew attempted to regain
control and downed the plane near Shanksville, Pennsylvania in the
2. Living up to our motto of Semper Paratus, Coast Guard personnel
sprang into action to save lives and provided security for that
day’s survivors.
3. Almost immediately following the attacks, all bridges and
tunnels in Manhattan were closed leaving hundreds of thousands of
people stranded, with no way to return safely home. Coast Guard
personnel directed the safe evacuation of more than 500,000 people
from the island with the assistance of hundreds of local ferries,
as well as commercial and private craft. This, the largest maritime
evacuation in recorded history, was conducted in less than 8 hours.
4. In and around Ground Zero, after the collapse of the World Trade
Center Towers, the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Strike Team worked in
close cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency to
monitor air quality for first responders in the rescue and recovery
5. At the Pentagon, the Navy Command Center sustained a direct hit
from the crash of Flight #77, resulting in the loss of 42
personnel. From a secondary office at Coast Guard Headquarters,
Coast Guard RADM Jeffrey Hathaway, the Director of the Navy Command
Center, fortuitously away from the Pentagon that morning,
established personal security detachments to protect Senior Navy
Leadership in the aftermath of the attack, and supported the
planning and policies of the coming war on terrorism.
6. By October 2001, U.S. Military forces had deployed to
Afghanistan to execute Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Coast
Guard personnel served in support of OEF through units such as the
Redeployment Assistance and Inspection Detachment (RAID Team),
inspecting shipments of hazardous materials and facilitating
container movements in support of the Global War on Terror.
7. In support of Operation Noble Eagle, thousands of Coast Guard
Active Duty, Reservists, and Auxiliarists mobilized to assist the
direct defense of the continental U.S., protecting military outload
operations, ensuring the safety of maritime commerce and port
facility operations, search and rescue, and other vital operations.
8. The attacks of September 11th made it clear that our national
security starts well beyond our borders. In response, President
George W. Bush signed the Maritime Transportation Security Act
(MTSA) of 2002 to protect the Nation’s ports and waterways from
terrorist attacks. The U.S. Coast Guard proceeded on the greatest
organizational transformation since World War II and expanded our
capabilities and mission sets. This included the establishment of
Maritime Security Response Teams (MSRT) and Maritime Safety and
Security Teams (MSST). By March 1, 2003, the Department of Homeland
Security was established with the U.S. Coast Guard serving as the
lead federal agency for maritime homeland security. Our efforts
throughout the U.S. Marine Transportation System (MTS) and across
the globe continue to actively counter and deter terrorism threats
in the maritime domain.
9. As an organization, we have made tectonic changes these past
twenty years and continually strive to refine and improve our
operations and mission support delivery, but we must never become
complacent. As technology rapidly advances and threatscapes become
increasingly complex, we too must advance and adapt. We, the U.S.
Coast Guard, are the eyes and ears for safety, security, and
environmental stewardship on our federal waters, and purveyors of
our national maritime interests across the globe. Keep your eyes
and ears wide open; prepare and adapt always; be ready and never
forget the lessons we learned on September 11th.
10. Thank you for your service, and Semper Paratus!
11. ADM K. L. Schultz, Commandant (CCG), sends.
12. Internet release is authorized.

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