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Guard Station Burlington

 

Guard Station Burlington was originally established in 1948 as a light attendant station on Juniper Island manned by four men. The current facility was built in 1993 in Burlington, VT. and is staffed with roughly 25 enlisted men and women.

The station provides the Lake Champlain area with Search and Rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties, Homeland Security, recreational boating safety, aids to navigation, and marine environmental response. These services are provided by the station 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It also assists about 1,000 boaters each year and maintains the buoys and other Aids to Navigation located on the Lake.

 

Location

US Coast Guard Station Burlington

1 Depot Street

Burlington, VT 05401-5226

Located in the First Coast Guard District, Station Burlington reports to Sector Northern New England in South Portland, Maine. Burlington’s area of responsibility includes all 125 miles of Lake Champlain, Coast Guard Auxillary co-ordination for Lake George and Lake Scanadaga, and aids to navigation on Lake Memphramagog in northern Vermont.

 

History

Coast Guard Station Burlington was originally established in 1948 as a seasonal unit. The only duty of its four-man crew was to maintain the aids to navigation on Lake Champlain, which included shore aids, buoys, and the light houses. The station maintained 40 short-range aids to navigation and 103 floating aids to navigation. The aid to navigation (ATON) mission is still a vital part of Station Burlington’s overall responsibilities, however numerous other mission areas have been assigned. This station was one of few to have a vessel that spent its entire lifetime of service in one port. That vessel, the CG-52309, a wooden hull front loader, was on display at the LCT Ferry Dock in Burlington.

 

Over the years commercial traffic on Lake Champlain has diminished, but recreational boating has increased dramatically. Search and Rescue (SAR) cases became more frequent, creating the need for a Coast Guard presence to protect against loss of life and property on the lake. Along with SAR, the Enforcement of Laws and Treaties (ELT) became necessary, as did enforcement of recreational boating safety. Because of these changed and the needs of the public and dedication to saving lives, the Coast Guard found it necessary to maintain an active year-round unit.

 

As of 1985, there were 17 men assigned to the Coast Guard unit, which kept a constant vigil on the lake. Also attached to the unit was one 46 ft. buoy boat and two rescue boats. When the lake is navigable, meaning not iced out, the Coast Guard kept a live radio and phone watch around the clock. Because of the increase of traffic on the lake, it was necessary for the Coast Guard to implement an augmentation plan. This consisted of a 25-man Coast Guard Reserve Unit, a Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla, and constant contact with marine law enforcement units over the entire lake.

 

The new station building was commissioned in August of 1993 offering the opportunity for female enlisted personnel to be assigned. The new building is comprised of 3 floors. The first floor is dedicated to unit maintenance and is where you will find the ET Shop, Bos’n Locker, MK shop, ATON shop, and male and female locker rooms. The second floor holds the Galley, Mess-deck, Gym, Lounge, Communications Center, office spaces, Officer in Charge (OINC), and Executive Petty Officer (XPO) offices. The third floor contains the berthing facilities for duty, temporary, and permanent party personnel.

 

As of 2009 Station Burlington was staffed with approximately 25 enlisted men and women. At that time the station had 4 primary boats; 2 for SAR and ELT, and 2 for ATON. The station responded to a wide variety of requests for assistance and in the past few years SAR cases have numbered between 200 to 300 per year.

 

Not only was the Coast Guard responsible for Lake Champlain, but it also coordinated search and rescue operations on Lake George and Lake Sacandaga, which for the most part are handled by Coast Guard Auxiliary and the local marine law enforcement agencies in those areas. Another body of water which comes into play is Lake Memphramagog, where the Coast Guard maintains two shore aids to navigation.

 

Mission

Search and Rescue

The primary mission of Station Burlington is Search and Rescue (SAR). The station averages over 200 search and rescue cases a year. This includes assisting boaters that are disabled or aground, locating overdue vessels, coordinating and responding to accidents on the lake, and responding to any other manner of distress on Lake Champlain. Winter operations include ice rescue training, as thousands of people head on to the ice to fish.

 

ATON (Aids to Navigation)

It is the responsibility of Station Burlington’s Aids to Navigation team to maintain over 140 buouys, lights, and markers on Lake Champlain. Having an Aids to Navigation team and a Search and Rescue unit at the same station has been particularly beneficial at Station Burlington and the two sections often work together to assist each other.

 

Law Enforcement

The stations Intelligence Officer coordinates law enforcement activities with Border Patrol and US Customs officials, as well as state and local officials from Vermont and New York. Coast Guard boarding officers and boarding team members enforce maritime law, and board vessels looking for boaters operating under the influence, violations of maritime law, and conduct safety inspections. Coast Guard Station Burlington’s Boarding Officers and Boarding Team members conducted over 300 boardings this year on Lake Champlain.

 

Environmental Protection

It is the Coast Guards duty to enforce all environmental laws for Lake Champlain. Besides federal law, state law is very specific concerning pollutants contaminating Lake Champlain. If a pollutant does enter the lake, Station Burlington coordinates with other environmental agencies (such as the EPA) to affect a swift, appropriate response.

 

Community Activities

The station also provides a place for Coast Guard Auxillary to meet, Coast Guard and Navy reserve personnel to train, and State Police to train. Coast Guard personnel teach a basic Boathandling/Seamanship course to Vermont State Police Auxillary troopers assigned to the State Police marine unit. ASVABS are also administered at Coast Guard Station Burlington. Station personell give tours, talk to students about life in the Coast Guard, and give talks on boating safety.

 

Contact

Tel: (802) 951-6792

Fax: (802) 951-6793