News Releases

Murray Secures $447 Million Increase in Coast Guard Funding

Nov 30 2001

Chairman Murray highlights Search and Rescue, National Distress and Response System and Pay Increases for Coast Guard Personnel

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced today that the Fiscal Year 2002 Transportation Appropriations Conference Report provides significant new funding for the Coast Guard.

As chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray succeeded in securing a 10 percent increase in Coast Guard funding.

The $5.03 billion Coast Guard budget for FY 2002 is $447 million more than $4.583 billion.

The Report is awaiting a final vote in both houses of Congress, before being sent to the President for his consideration.

"The Coast Guard is a priority for Washington state, it's a priority to the country, and my subcommittee will continue to work closely and cooperatively with the Coast Guard to protect the public and its personnel," said Murray.

Under Murray's supervision, the Senate Transportation Subcommittee held two hearings regarding the Coast Guard's Search and Rescue Operations earlier this year.

The Subcommittee was disturbed by declining rates of rescue of distressed mariners as well as serious staffing, training and equipment shortfalls at Coast Guard Search and Rescue stations.

"We had to address serious and growing problems in the Coast Guard Search and Rescue operations," Senator Murray said. "The Conference Report increases the budget request by $8 million for search and rescue to modernize its equipment and train personnel. We expect to see improvements in this area very soon."

The Conference Report fully funds a modernization initiative for the National Distress and Response System. The Report sets a number of milestones for the Coast Guard including --

  • filing all voice communications and recording gaps in marine coastal areas at high risk for accidents and fatalities;
  • increased capability to locate distressed vessels by the origin of distress signals;
  • increased communications capabilities between the Coast Guard and other federal and state search and rescue assets;
  • and full Coast Guard compatibility with international communications standards.
"We must modernize the Maritime 911 system. Its not an option, it is a responsibility that we take very seriously," Senator Murray said.

"We also acted to provide increased pay and benefits to our valued Coast Guard personnel. Our Coast Guard families make enormous sacrifices on behalf of drug interdiction and safety on our coasts and inland waterways," Senator Murray said.

The Transportation Conference Report provides an increase of $36.7 million for pay and benefit improvements including increased compensation, housing and subsistence allowances, and health care.

The Committee anticipates that increased pay and benefits will assist the Coast Guard in retaining senior personnel which has been a significant challenge due to private sector competition.