KINGSLAND -- There are 16 designated Coast Guard cities across the nation, but there's only one Coast Guard community.
But Camden County won't have the distinction of being the nation's only Coast Guard community for long because others are also seeking the designation.
Camden County will have signs erected on Interstate 95 that will never be duplicated: America's First Coast Guard Community.
The signs were unveiled at a ceremony Monday in Kingsland.
Sheila McNeill, chair of the Camden Partnership, helped spearhead the request for the special Coast Guard designation.
"We love the Coast Guard in Camden County," she told a large audience at the ceremony. "We are not one city, we are three cities (that support the Coast Guard)."
She described the process for the designation as "arduous" because the Coast Guard had never made a community designation. The standards to become a Coast Guard City are difficult to achieve.
Coast Guard Vice Commandant Vice Adm. Charles Michel was keynote speaker at the ceremony. He said lots of cities apply for the designation and most don't make it. The designation is only given to communities that go above and beyond what is expected to support local Coast Guard operations.
"Very few communities provide enough support to get recognition," he said. "We get lots of applications and most don't make it."
Nearly 500 men and women serve in Coast Guard units in St. Marys, where Maritime Safety and Security Team 91108 serves, and at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, where two cutters provide security to inbound and outbound Ohio-class submarines.
"I could not be any prouder to stand in this community today," Michel said.
Ann Purcell, the Georgia Department of Transportation District 1 representative, said the signs will be erected on I-95 at the south end of the county and the north end.
"We're proud to be part of it for the Georgia Department of Transportation," she said.
St. Marys Mayor John Morrissey expressed his thanks the signs will show motorists the strong support given to the Coast Guard.
"We all share pride with the relationship we have with the Coast Guard," he said. "These signs give recognition that will speak volumes about our community."