The United States Coast Guard patrols America’s waterways to keep them safe and secure. They repel drug traffickers, they provide vital search and rescue operations, and they even provide environmental protection for one of America’s most valuable resources. So why are there USCG cutters in Bahrain?
The Coast Guard employs Island Class WPB cutters, which are highly maneuverable and, with a smaller draft, can patrol in the shallow waters found in the Arabian Gulf. These ships also maintain their ability to stay long periods at sea since they can be replenished while underway. There are similarities in the capabilities of the WPBs and the Navy’s Coastal Patrol ships, however, the crew and legal jurisdiction really separate the two and creates the need for the Coast Guard in Bahrain.
As a member of Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard is able to enforce United States laws and treaties that Department of Defense services are unable to due to domestic and international laws. However, when operating as a member of the armed forces, the Coast Guard can fall under the Department of Navy and obtain the same authority and jurisdiction that U.S. Navy vessels have as well.
Having the USCG in Bahrain gives us another card to play in keeping the sea lanes open and safe for travel.