Miss. Senator Chairs Hearing to Consider Coast Guard’s Next Leader
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today chaired a hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to consider Vice Admiral Karl Schultz’s promotion to Admiral and nomination to become the 26th Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.
In his remarks to the committee, Wicker commended the Coast Guard for its contributions to the safety, security, and prosperity of the United States.
“The Coast Guard has had a tremendous year by all accounts,” Wicker said. “As our nation’s smallest armed service, it has repeatedly shown its value to the American people.”
This year, the Coast Guard has stopped more than $6.6 billion worth of cocaine and other drugs from entering the United States. The service also responded to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate, helping to save more than 11,000 lives.
Wicker also cited the considerable challenges facing the Coast Guard and its incoming commandant, including significant increases in vessel traffic in the Arctic, and an aging fleet that is in constant danger of breaking down.
Wicker has been an advocate for the Coast Guard reauthorization legislation that would provide the service with the resources and authorities necessary to meet the increasing demands placed upon it. The Commerce Committee approved the legislation 10 months ago and it is now pending before Congress.
In his questions to Vice Admiral Schultz, Wicker probed the Coast Guard’s need for additional National Security Cutters (NSC) to replace an aging fleet of 12 High Endurance Cutters that have been cited by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General as posing “significant challenges to mission performance.”
Schultz noted that with additional resources the Coast Guard would be able to “take a bigger bite” out of the hundreds of identified threats that are not addressed each year.
The most recent omnibus budget bill provided funding for the construction of two additional NSCs, which are built at Huntington Ingalls in Pascagoula.
Senator Roger Wicker Press Release