South Portland, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins visited the United States Coast Guard Sector Northern New England (SNNE) in South Portland to thank members of the Coast Guard for their search and rescue and national security work, particularly during the government shutdown, and participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly renovated command center. Following a tour of the facility, Senator Collins boarded the 65-foot ice breaking tug boat USCGC SHACKLE to survey Casco Bay and discuss the importance of ice breaking operations in the region.
“We saw your dedication during the recent government shutdown, which I strongly opposed due to the tremendous harm it caused to the Coast Guard, other federal employees, and their families. Despite going without paychecks, you remained on the job with total commitment,” said Senator Collins. “The outpouring of support you received from the communities you serve demonstrated the respect and gratitude you have earned from the American people.”
“‘Semper Paratus’ is more than a motto – it is a commitment the United States Coast Guard has made and kept since the earliest days of our nation,” Senator Collins continued. “This new command center upholds our nation’s obligation to provide you with the resources needed so that you can be ‘Always Ready.’ Thank you for your service to our country, and may you always have fair winds and following seas.”
Nearly 600 active-duty, reserve, and civilian personnel work for the U.S. Coast Guard SNNE, most of them stationed in Maine. Maine is home to three ice breaking ships, and they perform critical winter missions. The tugs make sure that ice doesn’t block pier access, which is necessary to deliver essential supplies to island communities, they keep critical commerce flowing, and they relieve ice dams on rivers to help prevent flooding in the spring.
During the recent government shutdown, which Senator Collins was adamantly against, 43,000 members of the Coast Guard went without pay.
In December, Senator Collins successfully urged the White House to ensure that Coast Guard members received pay for their pre-shutdown work when an anomaly in the pay system put their paychecks at risk. Senator Collins also co-authored legislation that was signed into law last month guaranteeing federal workers affected by the shutdown would receive backpay, and she is an original cosponsor of the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, which would have ensured all active members, civilians, and contractors of the Coast Guard were paid on time during the shutdown.
Most recently, Senator Collins introduced a bipartisan resolution calling on the Senate to oppose another government shutdown.