The MFPU at Bangor, established in 2007, is one of only two in the USCG, the other being at Kings Bay, GA. Bangor and Kings Bay are the two home ports for the US Navy Trident submarine force (SSBNs). A unique arrangement exists such that because the Coast Guard has statutory law enforcement capability, and not the US Navy, they have been engaged by the Navy to provide a security zone around SSBNs transiting on the surface to and from deployment. All of their assets, although marked for USCG, are actually owned by the US Navy. Personnel are USCG but all of their costs are paid for by the Navy. For both services it is a great relationship.
Although the primary mission of MFPU is the security escort service, the unit is available at all times for “usual” USCG functions such as rescue, maritime enforcement, etc. as needed. The Coast Guard motto Semper Paratus (Always Ready) certainly applies to MFPU. And although all of the other military services are part of the Department of Defense, the USCG is part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Maritime assets used by MFPU include 250′ blocking vessels, 87′ reaction vessels, 64′ large screening vessels and 33′ small screening vessels. When the requisite units are assembled and creating the 1000′ security zone around an SSBN it is called a “package”. A pretty impressive one at that!
Following the briefing we boarded a bus which took us to the waterfront area and there we assembled into two groups…each boarding a 64′ large screening vessel. The security gate to Hood Canal was opened and we proceeded into Hood Canal, up to and under Hood Canal bridge (right side), proceeded parallel to the bridge to the left side, back under and returned to Bangor. Along the way some of the amazing capabilities of the 64′ boats was demonstrated such as making what amounted to water donuts with a 360 degree spin in place, and while proceeding at speed stopping in 1 1/2 boat lengths and hardly feeling it happen.
We completed the water operation and then reassembled at the nearby galley for a great lunch, finally concluding a great tour and a great experience. Our sincere thanks to everyone at USCG-MFPU Bangor and, of course, to Byron Faber for arranging this tour for all of us.