Coast Guard commissions new post

14 Aug 2003 | Cpl. Ryan S. Scranton and Sgt. Joshua S. Higgins

The Coast Guard Port Security Detachment here recently became the Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center in a reassignment ceremony. 

The ceremony included the center's commissioning, a change of command, and retirement for the Port Security Detachment officer in charge.

"The commissioning of the Special Missions Training Center allows the unit to operate more autonomously as a training command," said Master Chief Petty Officer Dennis Kirk, command master chief, Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center.

The commissioning has allowed the unit to streamline its administrative functions. It can now process its own awards, establish its own requirements and timelines for training, and become self-sufficient like any other training center in the Coast Guard.  

Base officials announced plans for constructing the U.S. Joint Maritime Complex, which includes the Special Missions Training Center, in June. The new complex is intended to better equip maritime services in supporting homeland security operations, according to Kirk, and the training center is an integral part of the complex.

The U.S. Joint Maritime Complex, scheduled for completion in 2006, is intended to allow the U.S. Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Navy to standardize training and doctrinal approaches, establish communication protocols, and streamline operational techniques in support of the War on Terrorism.

After terrorist attacks on the USS Cole, Pentagon and World Trade Center, the demand for increased maritime security prompted the Coast Guard to stand up 12 new Maritime Security and Safety Teams and the Navy to stand up 13 new Mobile Security Force units over the next three years. Seeing the need for better facilities to train the new units, Coast Guard personnel and base officials here proposed the new complex.

The decision to build the complex here was based on its requirements, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Zachary A. Crawford, public affairs specialist, Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center. The base has the required access to water for joint boat tactics training, access to land-based training areas and water training ranges, and space to develop its facilities.

"Camp Lejeune is the best location for the facility because it has the best combination of elements needed for the type of training we'll do here," said Crawford. "Other sites were considered, but because they didn't meet one or more of the requirements, they weren't chosen."

Total cost for the complex will be about $40 million, according to W. Larry Brant, director, Installations/Environment Division, Marine Corps Base. The project will be broken down into three phases: including construction of the training center's headquarters, an academic instruction facility, and a 300-personnel barrack in the Courthouse Bay area, said Brant.

The new facility has been centered on the previous Port Security Detachment and new Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center concept, which has provided training for Coast Guard port security units at Courthouse Bay since November 1998, according to Kirk. Each service will provide its own instructors for mission-specific training at the complex. The Coast Guard will continue training port security units, maritime security and safety teams, and cutter-boat crews. The Navy will train its maritime security forces, and the Marine Corps will conduct various small-craft training focusing on force protection and intercepting enemy watercraft.

Commander Fred T. White, who was the officer in charge of the Port Security Detachment since 1999, took charge of the new organization upon the commissioning and then relinquished it to Cmdr. Elmo L. Alexander in the same ceremony. White retired to Charleston, S.C., upon relinquishing command to Alexander.