20th August 2015 | Pensacola, Florida. Hardly a day goes by that the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is not in the news. Anyone residing near American coastal waters knows of the good works performed by the service. Although the actual first day of issue was 4th August 2015, yesterday, at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, the U.S. Postal Service honored the Coast Guard with a public unveiling of “The United States Coast Guard Forever®” stamp. Being “Forever” stamps, they will always be equal in value to the current First Class postage one-ounce price.
The aesthetically pleasing seal features an HH/MH-65 Aerospatiale Helicopter Corporation (now known as Airbus Helicopters, Inc.) Dolphin Helicopter. The rotary wing flying machine appears above barque USCG Eagle (WIX-327).
USCG is famous for providing safety, security, and stewardship. The U.S. Postal Service stamp webpage states, “The United States Coast Guard Forever® stamp honors the actions taken by service members in protecting the United States and advancing maritime interests. In addition to saving lives at sea, today’s Coast Guard combats terrorism, enforces maritime law, carries out icebreaking operations, and aids overall in the nation’s defense.”
Speaking about the new offering, Coast Guard Auxiliary Public Affairs Support Specialist Constance O. Irvin, who also serves in the capacity of an aerial observer, stated, “I think the stamp is terrific. With the inclusion of the Coast Guard cutter Eagle and the H-65 helicopter, the public gets a glimpse of the Coast Guard’s pride in its past and in its state-of -the-art rescue capabilities for today. The stamp represents the overall mission of the Coast Guard as a protector on both the sea and in the air. Coast Guard members are Semper Paratus (always ready).”
The Coast Guard is the oldest continuous seagoing service of the United States. The Coast Guard (designated as the “Revenue Marine” upon establishment) was created by an act of Congress on 4th August 1790. It is a branch of the United States Armed Forces, one of the nation’s seven uniformed services and unique in that USCG is a maritime, military and multi-mission service. The organization operates under a maritime law enforcement responsibility (having jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters) and also a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission tasking.
Under the Department of Homeland Security umbrella during peacetime, USCG can be transferred to the Department of the Navy by the President or by Congressional action during times of war. Such transfers took place in 1917 as a result of America’s entry into World War I and in 1941 upon the advent of American involvement in World War II.
The Coast Guard has a civilian U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCGA) that is renowned for providing boating education and marine craft safety checks. Less publicized are the Auxiliary’s aviation functions, which includes airborne maritime reconnaissance missions under the auspices of USCG. The USCGA also associates with a Coast Guard Auxiliary Association for active members of the Auxiliary and non-uniformed supporters.
Dolphins of several models are in the USCG inventory. The HH-65A was the initial USCG version. HH-65Bs featured an avionics upgrade, the first unit reportedly emerging from post-depot maintenance in March 2001. Appearing in October 20014, the HH-65C versions are HH-65A/Bs that have been upgraded with more powerful engines, upgraded tail gearboxes, “long-nose” avionics compartments, and Vehicle and Engine Multifunction Displays. MH-65Cs represent a further enhancement of the HH-65C. Features include a 10-blade low-noise Fenestron (protected tail rotor), re-positioned avionics, and an “Airborne Use of Force” capability package which consists of the Barrett M107CQ 12.7 mm anti-materiel rifle and M240G 7.62 mm machine gun. MH-65D models, which came into service on 20th January 2011, are essentially MH-65Cs with an up-rated flight navigation system.
USCGC Eagle (formerly the SSS Horst Wessel) is 295-feet in length and is utilized as a “classroom” for prospective USCG officers. Built in 1936, Eagle (then the SSS Horst Wessel) permitted the training of German sailors in sail techniques until she was decommissioned at the beginning of World War II. Provided with anti-aircraft armaments, SSS Horst Wessel was re-commissioned in 1942. After the Third Reich’s 1945 surrender Horst Wessel was commandeered by the United States in partial payment of damages and injuries inflicted by Nazi Germany during the war.
Notably, Eagle is the only active commissioned sailing vessel, and in fact one of only two (the other being USS Constitution) commissioned sailing vessels remaining in U.S. military service. During summer months Eagle deploys with cadets from the United States Coast Guard Academy and candidates from the Officer Candidate School. At the same time the vessel performs a public relations role for both USCG and the United States.
United States Coast Guard Forever stamps may be purchased online or at local U.S. Postal Service retail outlets. The Art Director was Phil Jordan and William S. Phillips served as Illustrator for the production.
The author (John Stemple) and 20th Century Aviation Magazine thank Coast Guard Auxiliary Public Affairs Support Specialist Constance O. Irvin for providing input.
Sources and Suggested Readings
Eurocopter HH/MH-65 Dolphin
New Coast Guard Stamp Unveiled At NAS Pensacola Ceremony
United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard Forever® stamp
USCGC Eagle (WIX-327)