In 1966 the patrol boats were replaced by the 65 foot Harbor Tug USCG BITT (WYTL 65613). The BITT was tasked with servicing the shore Aids to Navigation and conducting Search and Rescue in the San Juan Islands. In 1977, with the opening of the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, the BITT was transferred to Valdez, Alaska. In its place a small SAR Station was opened with 6 personnel, one 41 foot Utility Boat (UTB) and a 16 foot Boston Whaler.
The first Station was commissioned on March 3, 1977. The primary mission was SAR; however, as the crew was quick to learn, they also handled Maritime Law Enforcement, Marine Environmental Protection, Port Safety and Security, and Recreational Boating Safety.
Between 1977 and 1986 the crew grew from six personnel to 12, outgrowing the first station. On November 20, 1986, a new station was built by the Port of Bellingham, and leased by the Coast Guard for nearly 13 years.
During the time frame of 1986 and 1999, the station has transformed once again, growing from 12 personnel to 20, including a compliment of 14 Reservists and 21 Auxiliarist. On July 9, 1999 The "NEW and Present" Station building and boathouse was established with facilities located across the street from the previous unit, on Coast Guard owned property at the Port of Bellingham. Construction costs of our "New" 10,600 square foot station and 2,500 square foot covered boathouse began in June 1998. This building and purchase cost of the property totaled $4 million.
North to Canadian border, San Juan Islands, South to Admiralty Inlet. Station Bellingham is the northern-most Station in the District and its area of responsibility contains the San Juan Islands, which account for the majority of their SAR cases. With their proximity to Canada, Station Bellingham is occasionally involved internationally conducting SAR and LE operations with the Canadians: working relations with the Canadian Coast Guard and other authorities are outstanding.