Captain Tony Hahn, Sector Commander of the USCG, was the keynote speaker at the regular meeting of the Flour Bluff Business Association held on September 14, 2016, at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff. As Sector Commander, Captain Hahn coordinates maritime security, law enforcement and response operations, and serves as Captain of the Port and Officer in Charge of Marine Inspections for South Texas. Captain Hahn moved his wife Marta and daughters, Sarah and Megan, here last summer from Washington, D.C. Sarah graduated Flour Bluff ISD in 2016 and now attends the University of Georgia. Megan is a junior at FBISD and plays on the varsity soccer team. “We love this community. We love being here. I love my job.”
Captain Hahn started his talk by greeting Chief San Juan, a 23-year veteran of the USCG and father of FBBA Director, Michael Morgan. San Juan was excited to be in attendance to hear Hahn’s presentation. “Hopefully everyone will leave here today with a better understanding of what the Coast Guard does. I love bragging about what the Coast Guard does. Hopefully I won’t make you too sick talking about how proud I am of what our people do.”
Hahn explained that about ten years ago the Coast Guard re-organized, breaking the areas served into geographical sectors. Captain Hahn took command of Sector Air Station Corpus Christi on June 5, 2015. The audience was surprised to learn that this sector includes the State of New Mexico in addition to the southwest section of Texas. “There’s not a whole lot of Coast Guard activity in New Mexico, but we do have a lot of Coast Guard auxiliarists who work on lakes and promote recreational boat safety courses in New Mexico,” explained Hahn. “We are about 700 people strong, and they – along with our assets – make up Sector Corpus Christi.”
Captain Hahn explained that he wears many hats, only one of which is Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator. “Search and Rescue is the mission that everyone thinks of when they think of us. We’re very good at it, and we’re very proud of that mission. For the entire sector region, every search and rescue case out on the ocean is managed by Sector Corpus Christi through our command center. I have four officers on my staff that act in my proxy for that mission. Whether it’s a person in the water at Bob Hall Pier or a sailboat 200 miles offshore, we manage all those cases. But, we get lots of help from all kinds of agencies. One of our biggest partners is Texas Parks and Wildlife.” He told the audience members that the real goal is to make sure people don’t ever get in trouble in the water, part of their Maritime Safety mission. In addition to Search and Rescue, Hahn is also Captain of the Port (enforces regulations for the protection and security of vessels, harbors, and waterfront facilities; anchorages; bridges; safety and security zones; and ports and waterways), Federal Maritime Security Coordinator (develops an area maritime security plan and coordinates actions under the National Transportation Security Plan), Officer in Charge of Marine Inspections (enforces vessel inspection, navigation, and seamen’s laws in general), Federal On-Scene Coordinator (coordinates and directs Federal removal efforts at the scene of an oil or hazardous substance discharge).
“We’re under the Department of Homeland Security, but we’re also one of the five armed services of the U.S. We’ve been that way since 1790. We like to call ourselves ‘the oldest continuous seagoing service in the nation.’ We rub our Navy friends on that one,” joked Hahn. “We fall under the Department of the Navy when war is declared. During WWII, war was declared on Japan and Germany. We left the Department of Treasury and fell under the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Coast Guard grew from about 30,000 to about 180,000 people. We’ve been involved in every major armed conflict the U.S. has had. We still have a whole squadron of patrol boats in Bahrain that protects approaches to the Persian Gulf to keep security in the Middle East as part of all that’s going on there.”
In closing, Captain Hahn related what his Sector has done in Fiscal Year 2016:
- 251 Search and rescues
- 89 Lives saved
- 340 People assisted
- 39 Launches interdicted
- 16 Migrants interdicted
- 163 Pollution responses
- 3151 Vessel arrivals
- 519 Vessel inspections
- 137 Facility inspections
- 97 Marine casualty inspections
- 549 Navigational aids corrected
“A lot of good work by some great people. I am blessed that I’ve got the best team in the Coast Guard. They keep me honest every day, and I think I have the job that is the most fun in the Coast Guard, as well,” said the captain.
FBBA President Melanie Hambrick thanked Captain Hahn for his service and for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to speak to the group as she presented him with the FBBA Certificate of Appreciation. Everyone left in awe of all that the Coast Guard does on a day-to-day basis. As Mike Morgan put it, “I feel safer at night knowing that people like Captain Hahn are on the job.”
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day. She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.