Guarding the P.R.

While the Commonwealth has a ton of reserve force installations (Fort Buchanan, Fort Allen, Campamento Santiago, Isla Verde training area, Punta Borinquen tracking station) that host the 8,700-strong Puerto Rico Army and Air Guard as well as reserve tenant activities from across DOD, there is little visible active military presence in Puerto Rico. After all, NAS Isla Grande closed in 1971, Ramey Air Force Base shut down in 1973, the Navy’s SOSUS facility at Ramey shuttered in 1976, and the famed “Rosey Roads” Naval Station wound down in the early 2000s following protests,

However, the Coast Guard maintains an extensive operation in the PR.

Coast Guard Puerto Rico’s Sector San Juan encompasses a 1.3 million square nautical miles area of responsibility throughout the Eastern Caribbean. The Sector includes two of the busiest ports in the nation, which receive over three million visitors and 11,000 vessel arrivals annually, including almost 1,600 cruise ships.

The Sector comprises more than 500 Active Duty and Reserve Sector personnel in 13 subordinate units, including seven fast response cutters, a Marine Safety Detachment, two Resident Inspection Offices, an Aids to Navigation Team, and a Tactical/Pursuit Station with two Boat Force Detachments.

Puerto Rico has an impressive squadron of seven new 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters, all received in the past seven years:

USCGC Richard Dixon (WPC-1113), a new FRC, one of seven deployed in Puerto Rico

  • Richard Dixon (WPC-1113)
  • Heriberto Hernandez (WPC-1114)
  • Joseph Napier (WPC-1115)
  • Winslow W. Griesser (WPC-1116)
  • Donald Horsley (WPC-1117)
  • Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118)
  • Joseph Doyle (WPC-1133)

And they have been very busy earning snowflakes for large narco busts at sea.

Coast Guard artist Robert Selby recently compiled a triptych of the Sector, entitled, “Guardians of the Puerto Rican Coast,” after shipping out on one of the FRCs.

Sector San Juan operations are supported by Coast Guard Base San Juan and Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, one of three major air stations in the Coast Guard’s Seventh District.

Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen operates from part of the old Ramsay AFB reservation and runs four MH60T Jayhawks– which replaced smaller MH65 Dolphins last year– while also supporting a variety of forward-deployed aircraft.

All told, the air station is home to 170 enlisted personnel, 35 officers, and 150 civilians.

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