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Port Security Unit 309

Port Clinton, OH


Port Security Unit 309


The Formative Years:

In the early 1980s, the concept of a Rapid Deployment Force was being pursued by the U.S. military.  Problems experienced in the 1970s (including the attempted rescue of the Iranian hostages) revealed a need for greater mobility and flexibility.  As the concept gained momentum, it was realized that during a rapid deployment of U.S. forces, vital overseas ports where military equipment would depart and arrive needed protection.

In 1984, U. S. Coast Guard Reserve Unit Cleveland participated in a major Fleet Training Exercise named Ocean Venture 84.  The entire unit and members of other Ninth District reserve units were flown by C-141 to Key West Florida to establish a mock-up of an overseas port security base.  Cleveland reserve boat crews manned the utility boats to provide twenty-four hour a day waterside security.  Port Securitymen and other non-boat personnel established a communication center, sick bay, operations center and a security perimeter.

Until 1990, much of the wartime organization for a Port Security Unit (PSU) was only theoretical.  Notional units were located as follows in in Buffalo, NY (PSU 301), in Cleveland, OH (PSU 302) and in Milwaukee, WI (PSU 303).  Ocean Venture 84, and then later once again during Gallant Eagle 86, helped define the wartime role of the Cleveland Reserve Unit.  Between exercises, the unit continued to augment local Coast Guard Stations and the Captain of the Port.  However, while the reservists were trained for peacetime missions during augmentation, the same reservists continued their training during exercises for a war everyone hoped would never occur.


Deployments-Home and Abroad:

In August 1990, the invasion of the country of Kuwait by neighboring Iraq, caused the largest military build-up since Vietnam.  When allied shipping began to transport war materials to Saudi Arabia, the need to protect the ports of embarkation became a major concern.  All of the training and exercises conducted during the 1980's by Reserve Unit Cleveland resulted in the unit's name change to Port Security Unit 302 (PSU 302).  On November 13, 1990, the unit's members received the call: "You have been involuntarily called to active duty."  The men and women of the unit quickly left their civilian jobs and families and mobilized as the newly designated Port Security Unit.  For one week members received last minute training at Camp Perry, OH and then flew to Manama, Bahrain on Thanksgiving Day.  PSU 302's primary duty was to provide waterside security for U.S. and allied warships anchored in the port. On April 19, 1991, PSU 302 returned to U.S. soil.

In 1994, PSU 302 was again recalled to active duty once again in support of Operation Uphold Democracy and deployed to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to secure the port facilities while exiled President Aristide was returned to power.   

On June 18, 1995, the unit was re-designated from that of "notional" to a self-sufficient standing Coast Guard unit.  It was commissioned as PSU 309 for the Ninth District.  There were five additional PSUs either commissioned or in the process of being commissioned in other districts of the Coast Guard as well.  Various overseas exercises occurred after Operation Uphold Democracy, including Operation Linked Seas in Portugal, Operation Foal Eagle in South Korea, and Bright Star 2000 in Egypt.  The unit was again called upon to provide waterside security for the International Naval Review/OPSAIL 2000 in New York Harbor for the Fourth of July festivities on the Hudson River.

In December of 2000, three separate detachments, (Bravo, Charlie, Delta) of the unit participated in aspects of Operation Southern Watch, again providing waterside security in Manama, Bahrain, and providing shipboard security forces on naval vessels.

In February 2003, PSU 309 was recalled to active duty to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom to help in the war on terrorism.  They were deployed to the island of Sicily to help guard U.S. and allied ships in transit to Iraq, slated to move into Turkish ports, to carry on the same mission.

In Sept of 2005, the coastal area of the Gulf of Mexico was struck by Katrina, a Category Five hurricane.  The devastation was widespread and PSU 309 was called to active duty under Title 14 and set up field operations at the Navy Seabee base in Gulfport, MS.  The unit provided critical security, humanitarian assistance, and support for the next twenty days.

In 2008 PSU 309 deployed once again to the Middle East as part of a joint forces operation with the US Navy and US Army in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  PSU 309 was the first PSU in almost five years to return to this mission.  The unit provided crucial waterborne and landside security to US and Coalition forces in areas as diverse as Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and oil platforms off the Iraqi coast.

Completing yet one more successful deployment, after returning from theatre, the unit was selected to and proudly represented the Coast Guard Reserve in the historical Presidential Inauguration festivities of Barack H. Obama as Forty-Fourth President of the United States in Washington, DC.


Unit Decorations:

22 March 2009            Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation

                                 Operation Iraqi Freedom

11 October 2006         Coast Guard Unit Commendation

                                 Hurricane Katrina Response Operations 

24 June 1991               Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation

                                  Operation Desert Shield 

19 January 1995           Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation

                                   Operation Uphold Democracy

15 October 2001         Coast Guard Unit Commendation

                                 Operation Southern Watch 

14 January 2004           Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation

                                   Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom


The Best Is Yet To Come:

As PSU 309 charges ahead, it truly has a rich tradition of which to be proud of and one it will carry forth into the future.  Whatever the mission or whatever part of the globe they may find themselves, the members of PSU 309 will carry on the proud heritage of the United States Coast Guard living by their sacred motto:


Facta Non Verba

(Deeds not Words)

CG Red Line Bar Image


USCG Port Security Unit 309
Erie Industrial Park, Bldg 360
Port Clinton, OH 43452

PHONE NUMBER (419) 635-4462

FAX NUMBER (419) 635-2608

Last Modified 5/16/2015