They might not be able to talk much in specifics about what they do. But they’ll have one of their boats in the 2017 Armed Forces Day Parade.
We’re talking U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit, and the 33-foot Special Purpose Craft Law Enforcement Vessel.
According to Lt. Ryan DeShazo, public affairs officer for the unit, there are 150 personnel assigned to the unit which is stationed at Naval Station Bangor.
“Our only mission is to protect the nuclear submarines that are at Bangor,” said DeShazo. “We are all active duty Coast Guard and we work along side the Navy and the Marines at Bangor.”
Other then telling the public that they “escort the subs in and out of the waters surrounding Bangor,” there’s not much else the public gets to know. They ride on the special purpose vessels, like the one that they will have in the parade.
“This is the third year for us to be in the parade,” he said. “We plan on having about 15 or 20 of us marching along side the vessel.”
And, he said the local Sea Cadets chapter will be there, too.
“These are the high school-aged students who plan for a future in the military,” he said. “As cadets, they get a chance to see what it’s like before they enlist.”
The Maritime Force Protection Unit came into being as an active duty unit in 2006, DeShazo said. Prior to that, it was a reserve unit.
“After 9/11, it was thought that there wasn’t enough protection of our submarines,” he said. “So the unit because an active duty assignment.”
Those who serve in the unit at Bangor are from throughout the United States, but most now live in Kitsap or King counties.
The vessel in the parade is similar to those that are seen escorting Washington State ferries during practices for emergencies, except those boats and units are based in Seattle.
Leslie Kelly is special sections editor for Sound Publishing’s Kitsap News Group.
This story originally appeared in the Armed Forces 2017 Festival Guide, a special section published on May 19 in the Bainbridge Island Review.