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SAN DIEGO – U.S. Coast Guard members celebrated the 75th year of operating the base located on North Harbor Drive in 2012.
Now known as Coast Guard Sector San Diego, the original facility was commissioned as an air station in April 1937.
At the time it was the only Coast Guard air station in California and its primary mission was seeking out drug smugglers on the maritime border.
Much of the preparation for the base was completed by the Coast Guard’s first aviator, Cmdr. Elmer F. Stone, who died shortly before the base was commissioned.
As the Coast Guard’s responsibilities and resources increased in San Diego, the base became Group San Diego in the 1960s and then Activities San Diego in the 1980s.
In 2004, the Coast Guard reorganized into 35 sectors across the country. The base became Sector San Diego and consolidated the air station, small boat station, marine safety and inspection functions, several patrol boats and other support units under one command. Multiple Coast Guard functions are now combined under the sector commander including Captain of the Port, Federal Maritime Security Coordinator, Officer in Charge Marine Inspections, Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator and Federal on Scene Coordinator.
Sector San Diego is responsible for a maritime area 200 nautical miles off shore from the U.S. - Mexico border north to San Mateo point and inland on navigable lakes and portions of the Colorado River in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada.
During the 75th year of operating the base, San Diego crews carried out 351 search and rescue cases, saved 98 lives, assisted 2,274 lives, saved approximately $1.6 million in property and responded to 226 pollution incidents.
Sector personnel also worked with Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in Southern California as part of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism. The ReCoM was formed as a means to share intelligence and integrate operations to target transnational crime along the Southern California coast. In fiscal year 2012, the ReCoM’s efforts prevented approximately 117,000 pounds of illegal drugs from entering the United States.
Significant cases and accomplishments for 2012 include the rescue of 12 boaters from a burning boat on Lake Havasu, a medical evacuation of a burn victim from a cargo ship off San Diego’s coast and oversight of approximately $5 billion in ship construction of 14 new U.S. Navy vessels.