USGC Juneau is a United States Coast Guard installation located in the capital city of Alaska, Juneau. The strategic location allows the Coast Guard to cover a wide range of areas and provide a larger service area for citizens. USGC is considered by most to be the hub of the 17th District and Coast Guard operations.
The mission of USGC Juneau is far reaching and complex. The coverage area of the base spans four separate time zones and covers several hundred square miles of open ocean. The northern location of the base adds another level of complexity to USGC Juneau’s mission with the annual threat of ice and icebergs. Following the iceberg related sinking of the Titanic in 1913; ice patrolling became a large focus of the United States Coast Guard, a priority that continues today. United States Coast Guard cutters and aircraft keep a constant watch for large ice flows and alert ships in the area to unusual activity. Constant vigilance in winter months keeps shipping channels clear and fishing vessels in the area safe.
A secondary mission of USGC Juneau is keeping a watchful eye on the large scale oil industry in Alaska. The oil deposits of Alaska attract a large drilling industry that is well known for spills and leaks, large and small. Coast Guard aircraft can easily spot leaks and spills from the air and alert the proper authorities for quick containment and cleanup. This task, in addition to fisheries monitoring, make up the bulk of the United States Coast Guard environmental operations in the area.
Perhaps the best known mission of USGC is search and rescue operation in the nearby waters and the unforgiving Bering Sea. Radar and communication facilities are monitored around the clock to receive distress calls from any vessel in the area and farther out to sea. Coast Guard cutters, aircraft and expert rescue swimmers respond to any and all distress calls in their area, regardless of weather conditions with a world renowned success rate.
Overall, USGC Juneau employs over 2,000 active duty and reserve United States Coast Guard personnel and nearly 300 civilians. This staff maintains and operates a fleet of 17 aircraft, including helicopters and fixed wing planes, 52 smaller boats and 17 cutters across the state of Alaska.
The area of USGC Juneau was originally established when Alaska was under Russian control in the early 1900’s, near the area of Sitka. Shortly after its founding, it was decided to move the facility to Auke Bay, near present day Juneau. Over the next several decades, though not officially being part of the United States, the Coast Guard facility operated in the area up until Alaska was brought into the United States in 1959. In 1974 the base was moved to its present day location in Juneau, despite a vote to make that city the capital being rejected by the United States Government.