Guardians of the Heartland
The Eighth Coast Guard District, headquartered in New Orleans, covers all or part of 26 states throughout the Gulf Coast and heartland of America. It stretches from the Appalachian Mountains and Chattahoochee River in the east, to the Rocky Mountains in the west, and from the U.S./Mexico border and the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border in North Dakota.
Part of the Department of Homeland Security, the men and women of the Eighth District are vital in protecting the 1,200 miles of coastline and 10,300 miles of inland navigable waterways located in their area of responsibility.
The Eighth District is home to two of the nation’s busiest ports, New Orleans and Houston. More than two million barrels of oil and one million tons of cargo are imported daily. Seventeen of the top 40 busiest ports by tonnage are located in the Eighth District.
There are more than 6,500 oil and gas producing wells, and 130 mobile offshore drilling units in the Gulf of Mexico that keep the district’s Marine Safety program gainfully employed. Five of the top seven fishing ports in the country are located in the district. They account for nearly 40 percent of the catch of U.S. commercial fishermen.
Protecting America’s borders is the key to ensuring the free flow of commerce and the safety of our citizens.
There are approximately 4,045 active duty and reserve members, 6,000 auxiliarists and 288 civilian personnel assigned to the Eighth District.
The Eight District is also home to: four air stations; 15 search and rescue stations; 14 aids-to-navigation teams; three vessel traffic services; and five LORAN stations. Surface assets include: two 210-foot medium endurance cutters; seventeen 87-foot patrol boats; 19 river tenders; one 225-foot buoy tender; two 175-foot coastal buoy tenders; and three 64-foot self-propelled barges. There are also three Coast Guard Auxiliary regions in the Eighth District’s area of responsibility, New Orleans, St. Louis and Louisville, Ky.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina labeled the worst natural disaster in American history, created a 900,000 square-mile area of destruction along the Gulf coast. In that destruction were the homes of Coast Guard families. The men and women of the Eighth District put their own needs aside and lived up to the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Coast Guard crews rescued more than 24,000 people and assisted with the joint-agency evacuation of an additional 9,400 patients and medical personnel from hospitals in the Gulf coast region. More than 33,400 people were saved and evacuated during the hurricane response effort.
The storm also caused widespread environmental damage. Eighth District crews worked in tandem with the Environmental Protection Agency, local industry, state and local officials in Louisiana and Mississippi on more than 700 pollution cases of oil and contaminants released into the waterways by the storm. To date, more than 90% of these cases have been closed. In southeast Louisiana, the Coast Guard worked with the Unified Command - a team composed of federal, state and local officials in cooperation with industry partners - to conduct aggressive response operations to contain and recover oil in nine major and medium spills totaling more than 7.1 million gallons of oil as well as approximately 35 minor spills of less than 10,000 gallons.