Coast Guard leases new facility on St. Croix


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ST. CROIX - The U.S. Coast Guard on Friday snipped a ceremonial ribbon to mark the move of its Resident Inspection Office and its Boat Forces Detachment to a single newly leased facility on the island's East End.

"This is truly an amazing place to serve the citizens of our great nation," Capt. Drew Pearson, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan, said of the region.

According to the Coast Guard, the 5,000-square-foot facility at 5090 Estate Solitude comprises office space, a boat maintenance shop, an armory, storage space and parking for customers. The governmental lease also provides temporary pier space for two 29-foot Response Boat Small II generation boats.

Officials said the boats will be docked at Green Cay Marina.

Previously, the Resident Inspection Office and the Boat Forces Detachment had been housed in separate locations on the island.

"Having our Coast Guard forces co-located in St. Croix allows us greater access to better serve and answer the needs of mariners, boaters and our partners on the island," Pearson said in a prepared statement. "This new location reduces Coast Guard response times to search-and-rescue and law enforcement cases and expands our ability to execute other Coast Guard missions in the area as we continue our collective efforts to protect the safety and security of citizens in St. Croix and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

During Friday's ceremony, Pearson praised the Coast Guard team on St. Croix.

Coast Guard Resident Inspection Office personnel routinely perform all Coast Guard Marine Safety operational functions on the island, and Boat Forces St. Croix personnel serve as a detachment of Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan.

The Boat Forces unit comprises two 29-foot Response Boat Small II generation boats, which carry out search-and-rescue, Homeland Security and law enforcement operations.

Pearson told The Daily News that the ship traffic when HOVENSA was operating as a refinery kept Coast Guard personnel busy, but that has slowed since the end of refining operations.

"The reduction of shipping activities has allowed us to expand our mission" on St. Croix, he said.

During Friday's ceremony, V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen thanked the Coast Guard for its responsiveness to the needs of the St. Croix community. The new facility, she said, is more accessible to the public and more comfortable for the staff.

Raymond Williams, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis, represented the V.I. Government at the brief ceremony.

"All you need to know is that you're making our community safer," he said to the Coast Guard personnel attending the ceremony.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email jblackburn@dailynews.vi.

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