Senator Jay Rockefeller said reauthorization of the U.S. Coast Guard's funding and personnel levels for the next two years provides stability for four West Virginia facilities.
Rockefeller is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which oversees the Coast Guard. In West Virginia, the service supports more than 1,000 personnel at four facilities. The Coast Guard's Marine Safety Huntington operation is responsible for securing the Port of Huntington, the country's largest Inland Waterways Port, as well as the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers. In the Eastern Panhandle, the Coast Guard's Operations Systems Center, National Vessel Documentation Center and National Maritime Center provide critical information technology and services that support Coast Guard missions.
"After months of tough negotiations, I'm thrilled the Senate has approved funding for a branch of the military that's so important to West Virginia," Rockefeller said. "The Coast Guard creates real jobs and supports economic development in West Virginia, particularly in Huntington and the Eastern Panhandle, through high-performance, low-cost operations. I am committed to their continued success.
"The Coast Guard is responsible for search and rescue operations, protecting our ports and waterways and nine other missions but must deploy and operate with strained resources. There are countless examples of the courageous accomplishments of our Coast Guard men and women. They deserve to have our admiration and the necessary authority and funding to accomplish these invaluable operations for our national and economic security."
The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2012, H.R. 2838, will:
Authorize funding and personnel levels for the U.S. Coast Guard at $8.6 billion in fiscal year 2013 and $8.7 billion in fiscal year 2014 and make a number of needed refinements to the statutory authorities of the Coast Guard;
Enhance the Coast Guard's major acquisitions authorities, extending current authority through 2015 for expedited hiring of major acquisitions experts to work on the Coast Guard's critical fleet recapitalization; establish advance procurement authority for the purchase of new ship construction materials, parts, and components that have a long "lead time" for their manufacture or production; and enable the Coast Guard to enter into a multi-year contract for the procurement of additional National Security Cutters--the flagship of the Coast Guard's recapitalized surface fleet;
Ensure that the Coast Guard maintains its capability to conduct polar ice operations in support of Coast Guard statutory missions and operational needs of the United States Navy, and give the Coast Guard greater parity with its sister Armed Services by further aligning Coast Guard management and personnel authorities with statutory authorities of the Department of Defense;
Eliminate the current requirement for maritime workers to make multiple trips to a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) enrollment center to receive the TWIC ID card;
Reauthorize the Maritime Administration for fiscal year 2013 to aid in combating and suppressing piracy;
Reauthorize important programs within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Coast Guard to identify, reduce, and remove harmful marine debris.