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(Seattle, WA) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray delivered the keynote address at the commissioning ceremony for a new marine security team stationed in the Puget Sound.

The newly commissioned Coast Guard security team, known as a "Maritime Safety and Security Team," is the first of four teams in the nation to help after September 11th.

President Bush had proposed funding for just two teams. Senator Murray used her position in the Senate to fund four teams and directed that one MSST be stationed in the Puget Sound.

Murray is a leading voice in Congress for the Coast Guard. Last year, she worked to increase the Coast Guard budget by 10 percent to help improve search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, port safety and to provide a pay raise for Coast Guard personnel.

Senator Murray's Remarks Follow:

Delivered at the Coast Guard Base, Pier 36, USCG Museum, Seattle, Washington

Thank you Lieutenant Madura. I want to welcome your Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ortiz, and all of the members of this, the first Coast Guard Marine Safety and Security Team. Some of you hail from this area but most of you do not. So I want to welcome all of you to a community that truly treasures the Coast Guard; treasures each and every one of you and the work you do every day of the year.

I would also like to welcome Admiral Collins, our new Coast Guard Commandant. I am particularly pleased that we could bring you here to Puget Sound for this occasion within just one month of your taking the reigns of your fine service.

I also want to welcome our new Pacific Area Commander, Vice Admiral Terry Cross. In addition, I also want to say that I couldn't be more pleased that Rear Admiral Erroll Brown, our Thirteenth District Commander, will be with us for at least one more year. This is an experienced and capable team. The coastal communities of Washington State put a great deal of trust in their capabilities and these leaders have not and will not disappoint us.

I also want to take a moment to welcome Rear Admiral Vinson Smith, our Navy Commander of Navy Region Northwest. We have always been very proud of our Navy facilities and the thousands of Navy families that call Puget Sound their home.

Many people would expect a speech today to start with a remembrance of September 11th. However in this case, the story really begins on October 12, 2000; the day that foreign terrorists detonated an explosive device in close proximity to the USS COLE. In that attack, 17 sailors were killed and 39 were injured. The events of that day educated us all as to the critical importance of protecting our military forces, not only abroad but also at home.

The Coast Guard has always had, as one of its many missions, the protection of our Navy forces in the coastal zone. But the events of September 11th, coming just 11 months after the USS COLE bombing, told us in ways that we never anticipated, that a great deal more needed to be done to secure our homeland – not just our military forces but all of our critical commercial infrastructure and especially our ports.

Immediately following September 11th, we saw Coast Guard Search and Rescue boats deployed away from their stations so that security zones could be set up around our Navy installations. Our largest Coast Guard Cutters were brought much closer to our shores.

The new and sudden requirement for expanded Homeland Defense meant necessarily that the Coast Guard would be spending less time interdicting drugs and illegal migrants, enforcing fishery laws and marine safety and, protecting our marine environment. Unfortunately, this situation persists to this day. Back in October 2001, I wrote to the Navy Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Fargo, and urged him to take the steps necessary to allow Coast Guard Search and Rescue boats to return to their Stations and allow our other Coast Guard assets to return, at least to some extent, to some of their more traditional missions. I couldn't have been more pleased with Admiral Fargo's response.

He saw to it that the Navy transferred several units to Puget Sound, including two, one-hundred and seventy foot, Cyclone Class Coastal Patrol Ships. These two vessels and crews are operated and paid for by the Navy but are serving under the Coast Guard's Command. We hope and expect that these boats will be here protecting our community for some time to come.

As we all know, the Homeland Defense Mission of our Coast Guard is critical. However, the fact that terrorists struck our nation does not mean our requirement for the Coast Guard to execute all its other missions went away. We still need the Coast Guard to keep drugs and illegal migrants off our shores, to protect our environment; to safeguard our maritime missions throughout our waters, and protect the lives of our fisherman and the integrity of our fishing grounds.

All of these missions speak to the quality of our daily life as a coastal state. There is no question that, when it comes to Port Security, we need to do a great deal more than what we are doing. Our thousands of port employees are on the front lines of this potential threat. Just one episode to disrupt our ports could wreak havoc on our economy, both locally and nationally.

Over six million containers enter our country from all around the world and we don't know as much about those containers as we should. Roughly 15 percent of those containers enter right here in the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Should a security breach close down any of our ports and require us to slow down the movement of container traffic, it would not just be our port employees whose jobs will be at risk. Such a disaster would ripple rapidly through our economy and would mean a loss of jobs stretching from this port to the Wal-Mart in the heart of Ohio and everywhere in between.

I was especially sensitive to this issue when the Bush Administration submitted its request for Supplemental Homeland Defense funds last year. At that time, the Coast Guard was seeking funding for two Marine Safety and Security Teams, the first two of its kind. When I saw this request, I felt strongly that two teams were not enough. So as Chair of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I put in sufficient funding for twice that amount – for four teams – and I mandated that one of those teams be stationed right here in Puget Sound.

In that same bill, I also included $93 million in funding to provide direct grants to our public Port Authorities. The good news is that nearly $6 million of that money ended up right here in Puget Sound to assist the Ports of Tacoma, Seattle and Everett to boost their security effort.

I want to commend these ports for their cooperative approach to this problem. They often find themselves competing with each other for port traffic, but when it came to facing the security challenge, they worked side-by-side to obtain this money. They know that a security breech in one port would mean a disaster for all our ports. They know that security is everybody's business, not just that of our federal and state law enforcement agencies.

Our efforts in funding enhanced Port Security did not stop with that bill last year. I am currently in Conference with the House on another Supplemental Appropriations bill. The Senate bill provides an additional $200 million in direct grants to our Port Authorities to improve security. It also includes funding for two more Coast Guard Marine Safety and Security Teams so that more of our nation's ports can commission units like the one we are commissioning here today.

That bill includes $666 million for the Coast Guard – an amount that is $410 million more than the Administration requested. My goal is to substantially boost the Coast Guard's overall effort in Homeland Defense as well as better enable them to address all of their missions.

Today we are celebrating the arrival of the new Marine Safety and Security Team. With the arrival of this outstanding Team all those who might disrupt our ports and our way of life should know that they will pay a price for their efforts. They should know that, in the end, their plans will fail.

With the arrival of this Team, we not only take a step forward in enhancing our forces to protect our ports but we also take a step forward toward allowing our Coast Guard to return to their traditional missions.

One of these critical agenda items for all of us is the need for expanded Search and Rescue coverage here in Puget Sound and throughout the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Vessel traffic throughout our region, especially ferry traffic, has been on the rise over the last two decades but the number and reach of our Coast Guard assets have not kept pace. Last year, well before September 11th, the Coast Guard presented me with a plan to transfer vessels and crewman from other stations to Port Angeles to address a clear deficiency in their Search and Rescue coverage stretching from West of Port Angeles to East of Port Townsend. After many discussions with then- Commandant Jim Loy, Admiral Collins, and many others, I'm pleased to report that the problem will be solved with the introduction of brand new assets to the district, not by transferring critically needed assets between our stations.

Five new vessels will be arriving at Port Angeles, over the course of the next several months, including two new 87-foot patrol boats. The 110-foot patrol boat -- the Cuttyhunk – which is already at Port Angeles for the purpose of aviation training, will have its missions expanded to include Search and Rescue. Together, these changes will enable the Coast Guard to convert Port Angeles into a full 24-hour boat station that will be ready and able to protect our citizens at all times and in all weather conditions. In addition, I'm pleased to announce that the Coast Guard is preparing to locate another new 87-foot patrol boat at Bellingham. While the money for that boat has not yet been signed into law, I can assure you right now, as Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, that the money is on the way.

Another piece of unfinished Coast Guard business that I was attending to prior to September 11 was the very Pier that I am standing on. Pier 36 has been home to the Coast Guard in Seattle for decades. But like so many Coast Guard units, our proud forces are serving in an aging and cramped facility – a facility that the Nisqually Earthquake put a crack right down the center of.

This pier and these facilities are in desperate need of modernization. Unfortunately, funding to improve Coast Guard shore facilities has been tight. And the Coast Guard's new Deepwater project, which is committed to replacing its aging fleet of cutters and aircraft, is likely to make money for shore facilities even tighter in the years to come.

Over the last year, I have asked the leadership of the Port of Seattle and the Coast Guard to pursue discussions as to whether a plan can be developed where the Coast Guard would get brand new facilities at either Pier 90 or 91 in exchange for the Port of Seattle getting the opportunity to further develop Pier 36 for commercial purposes. I know that this potential move has created some anxiety for the troops that currently commute to Pier 36. I know that some have felt that they were being asked to leave this neighborhood just when it is becoming more attractive and in greater demand.

I am pleased to tell you this morning that the study has now been thoroughly reviewed and a decision has been reached. That decision is for the Coast Guard to stay right here at Pier 36. That decision also means that I am going to reapply my energies toward getting the necessary funding to make this Pier 36 facility, the finest facility in Coast Guard. I have already appropriated $10 million for the renovation of this facility and there will be more to come. Now that this decision has been made, it is time to develop a multi-year plan to modernize this pier and this facility. The officers, the enlisted people, and the civilians that work here, including our newest members of the Marine Safety and Security Team, deserve no less.

So I want to end this speech where I began – by welcoming the Marine Safety and Security Team to the Seattle community. Your efforts are central to our continued safety and prosperity here. Best of all, the people of Seattle and their elected representatives know it and will be grateful for your hard work each and everyday.