Wednesday, March 25, 2009

First Draft - Application for Coast Guard City

Designation Request - Coast Guard City
The City of Portsmouth, Virginia
811 Crawford Street
Portsmouth, VA 23701

Written rationale indicating a robust, on-going relationship between the community and local Coast Guard units:

History of Portsmouth and the Coast Guard
The City of Portsmouth Virginia has a long and proud history of cooperation with the United States Coast Guard, dating back to the time when the Coast Guard’s predecessor, the Sixth Life Saving District, based its headquarters in Portsmouth in 1874.

Current Portsmouth Coast Guard Commands
Portsmouth is home to the Fifth Coast Guard District, the Coast Guard Base, The Integrated Support Command, Command and Control Engineering Center (C2CEN), and six 270-foot cutters: USCGC Bear (WMEC-901); USCGC Forward (WMEC-911); USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC-903); USCGC Legare (WMEC-912); USCGC Northland (WMEC-904); and USCGC Tampa (WMEC-902).

The Lightship Museum
The Lightship PORTSMOUTH was built in 1915 and served for 48 years (under another name) for 48 years off the coasts of Virginia, Delaware and Massachusetts. In 1964, in celebration of Portsmouth’s long history with the Coast Guard, she was retired to Portsmouth and renamed according to the custom of naming lightships after the site where they are stationed. In 1989, the Lightship PORTSMOUTH was designated a National Historic Landmark. Now a museum, the ship’s quarters are staged realistically and filled with fascinating artifacts, uniforms, photographs, models, and more.

Hog Island Fresnel Lens Exhibit, Pavilion Portsmouth, VA
In an exhibit pavilion in downtown Portsmouth, Virginia, adjacent to the Elizabeth River seawall at the end of High Street, stands the first-order Fresnel lens from the historic Hog Island Lighthouse. This stunning display celebrates the long history of the City with the Coast Guard. The City of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Museums Foundation worked closely with the United States Coast Guard to establish this permanent display.

The lens, the second largest lighthouse lens in the U.S., stands 10 feet tall and weighs 2,500 pounds. 368 prisms make up the reflective body of the lens. The appearance of the display evokes the image of the lantern room of a lighthouse. The lens is mounted on a turntable that rotates slowly, much as it once turned at the top of the Hog Island Lighthouse. Spotlights mounted at the ceiling of the pavilion reflect off the lens’ prisms creating a magnificent scene at night as the lens sparkles and shines.

Fort Nelson Park – Effingham at Crawford Streets, Portsmouth, VA
Fort Nelson Park is a new addition to Portsmouth’s inventory of community parks. Included in the displays at this military and Coast Guard-themed park is the propeller of the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney. The Taney was very notable, in that it was the last American ship serving which had valiantly fought at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Cooperation Between U.S. Coast Guard and the Portsmouth Fire Department
There has been a long-term working relationship between the Coast Guard and the Portsmouth Fire Department. The Coast Guard has allowed PFD Fire Boat 1 to be docked at the Coast Guard base for many years.

Coast Guard Boulevard
The City of Portsmouth has proudly named one of its streets, “Coast Guard Boulevard.”

Mayor’s Proclamation Recognizing the Coast Guard Birthday
In August 2008, Portsmouth celebrated the Coast Guard's birthday with re-enactors, special museum displays and activities, and tours of the Coast Guard Cutter Seaborne, which was docked at the High Street Landing.

Long-Term Support by City Council
A review of City Council minutes shows a long history of cooperation with Coast Guard on relocations and improvements to facilities, attendance at CG functions by council members and City staff, events hosted for CG and other military.

Support for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Games in Portsmouth, VA
Portsmouth residents provided housing and other assistance to participants for the ISAR games which occurred in Portsmouth in 2005 and 2007. St. John’s Episcopal Church, Portsmouth celebrated a special religious service for participants during both year’s games.

Mayor’s Military Affairs Committee
The Mayor’s Military Affairs Committee (MMAC) was created to as a liaison between area military and Coast Guard commands and the City of Portsmouth. The goal of the MMAC is to seek ways to enhance the quality of life of military and Coast Guard service members residing in the city, as well as to attract new service members to live within Portsmouth.

Some issues, such as difficulties in the transferring of students from other states into Portsmouth schools are handled on a macro level by advocating for a group. Other issues are more individual, such as resolving parking and other issues which are brought to the Committee for resolution.
Mayor’s Military Affairs Committee…continued

Area military and Coast Guard Command Master Chiefs are included as Committee Members. There is an active sub-Committee of the group, the Area Command Master Chief’s Committee which meets separately. Members also include spouses of military and Coast Guard commands, representing family members. Command Public Affairs Officers are regular members of the Committee. Other Committee members come from the City of Portsmouth, including City Council Members and City staff. Retired military and Coast Guard officers and senior non-commissioned officers serve with the Committee.

In addition to the advocacy role, MMAC members participate in area Sailor of the Year presentations, as well as military functions, such as local Change of Command ceremonies. One of the most visible activities of MMAC is the annual Portsmouth Memorial Day Parade. This parade is the oldest continuous parade of this type in the United States and will celebrate its 125th birthday on Memorial Day, 2009. Area military and Coast Guard Commanding Officers serve as Grand Marshall on a rotating basis. The Coast Guard and its static displays are a prominent part of each year’s parade.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Terry Danaher's information

Terry provided the following information:

Application for “Coast Guard City” Status

1. Letter from mayor (ask council liaison to request)

2. Narrative of description of relationship to include:

Mayor's Military Affairs Committee, mission, membership, activities (parade, participation in official functions, e.g., change of command, etc.)

Coast Guard Monuments in Portsmouth: Lightship Portsmouth Museum, Fresnel Lens, Ft. Nelson Park cutter Robert H. Taney propeller display

Citizen interest/actions: Chapters in the Dean Burgess book and Mapp book on Coast Guard history; two historic children's coloring books feature the Lightship and Coast Guard history; Coast Guard history featured in "Ida Kay's Portsmouth" in V.P. Currents

Portsmouth celebrated the Coast Guard's birthday with reenactors, special museum displays and activities, and tours of the Coast Guard Cutter Seaborne, which was docked at the High Street Landing, the first weekend in August 2008.

Street named "Coast Guard Boulevard"

A review of City Council minutes shows a long history of cooperation with Coast Guard on relocations and improvements to facilities, attendance at CG functions by council members and City staff, events hosted for CG and other military

Long-term working relationship with Fire Department--Fire Boat 1 docked at CG base

3. Cover list for specific examples of #2 above attached to copies of book chapters, articles, promotional materials, parade photos, etc.

4. Letters from MMAC (Lindley), Portsmouth Museums (Perry), City Manager’s Office (Chandler), Portsmouth Partnership (Hargrove), Portsmouth Chamber (Scharl), Fire Dept. (Barfield), Police (Hargis), individuals (Theisen, Burgess, Jordan), Coast Guard Commanders (Papp, Rosa?)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Coast Guard City Grand Haven MI

Anne Bremer contacted the director of the Grand Haven, MI Coast guard festival. More information on this festival is located below:

I left an email for Commander Michael Smith, USCG, Ret. at 616-846-5940.

E-Mail Sent to Coast Guard Historian

Elizabeth Psimas provided contact information for the Coast Guard historian as follows:

William H. Thiesen, PH.D
Coast Guard Atlantic Area
431 Crawford Street
Portsmouth, VA 23704

Dear Dr. Thiesen:

Elizabeth Psimas provided me with your business card.

The Mayor's Military Affairs Committe is striving to have Portsmouth named a "Coast Guard City." We are in the process of seeking out advice from current Coast Guard Cities, so that we can develop the best possible package for submission.

We have currently set up a website (in blog form) to document and track our efforts. It is set up in this format so that all Committee members may have access to the information we are collecting. You may view it, if you wish, at

I would like to include a history of the Coast Guard in Portsmouth on the website, as well as in the package which we will submit to the Coast Guard.

I will be including the activities of the Mayors Military Affairs Committee, the Lightship Museum, the Fresnel Lens and the support the citizens of Portsmouth provided to the ISAR competition between the American and Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliaries and Portsmouth's support for the Coast Guard birthday as back up for the request of Coast Guard City designation.

Could you point me in the right direction on getting this info together? Is it online? Would it be better for us to meet some time after Thanksgiving? Any insight you'd have for this project would be very helpful.

Thanks in advance for your help,

Anne Galvin Bremer, Co-Chair
Coast Guard City Sub-Committee
Mayor's Military Affairs Committee
City of Portsmouth

Dr. Thiesen called me back within 30 seconds of sending my email. He recomended that I make an appointment with his counterpart in Washington, DC at Coast Guard HQ at Buzzard's Point to see the file for Portsmouth. His office is relatively new and he does not have any old files.

He also suggested that I get a copy of Dean Burgess' book at the library, which has excellent information regarding the history of Portsmouth and the Coast Guard. Dr. Thiesen suggested that Coast Guard Cities Grand Haven, MI and Wilmington, NC will be excellent resources for us.

A copy of his follow up email is listed below:

Hi Anne:I've pasted below information from the USCG Public Affairs Manual to help guide you through this process. You may also want to consult with Wilmington, North Carolina. It's a Coast Guard City of roughly the same population as Portsmouth.Feel free to call me should you have further questions.All the best,Bill

F. "A COAST GUARD CITY" DESIGNATIONS.1. Purpose. The Commandant takes great pride in the many services provided by the men and women of the Coast Guard to American citizens in general and, in particular, to the residents of the communities in which they are assigned. It is the intent of this program, in accordance with federal law, to provide for the recognition of those cities that, in return, have made special efforts to acknowledge the professional work of the Coast Guard men and women assigned to their area by regularly reaching out to them and their families and making them feel "at home at their home away from home." Such efforts should be indicative of a long-standing and enduring relationship with an emphasis on considerations the community has made for the members of the Coast Guard family and their dependents. This document provides information as to how a city or municipality may submit a request to be designated "A Coast Guard City" and to provide the range of requirements to be met in order to be considered for such designation.2. Background.

On November 13, 1998, a law was enacted that allowed the city of Grand Haven, MI, to formally be called "Coast Guard City, USA" (Section 409 of P.L. 105-383). That law also provides for other cities to be similarly designated with a 90-say notice of intent from the Commandant to the two authorizing congressional committees. In accordance with that provision, on 3 June 2000, Eureka, CA, became the second city to receive the tribute and was proclaimed "A Coast Guard City." Grand Haven's designation was based on their 75-year-long history of extraordinary support for Coast Guard personnel assigned to the Grand Haven area. Eureka's designation, likewise, was based on a multi-year history of community sensitivity to the needs of the local Coast Guard personnel and the many actions they took and activities they sponsored each year to benefit the Coast Guard personnel in their area. While formal criteria did not exist for the designations of either Grand Haven or Eureka, the precedence of those actions provided de facto criteria for future considerations. It should be noted that neither designation focused on the size of the local Coast Guard community nor on what the Coast Guard personnel, either active duty or retired, contributed as volunteers to community projects. However, for the purpose of consideration for future designations of Coast Guard Cities, weight will be given to partnerships on local community projects that would be indicative of a robust, on-going relationship between the community as a whole and the local Coast Guard unit or units.3. Designation request process. In order to maintain the honor and integrity of the designation, those who desire to have their city designated "A Coast Guard City" should provide a written rationale to the local Coast Guard district or sector commander, who will review the application and forward it with or without an endorsement through the Coast Guard's chain of command to Commandant (CG09223). A standardized form is available from Commandant (CG-09223) for crafting the rationale.

The city's written rationale should specify examples of the city's enduring relationship with the Coast Guard and the city's consistently demonstrated support for our service members. Additionally, the city leadership should show a strong interest in garnering the recognition. Commandant (CG09223) will recommend to Commandant (CG-092) if the city's support of the Coast Guard warrants such a designation and, if approved, will craft an appropriate citation, based on the information provided, for the proclamation ceremony.

4. Procedures. A city or municipality must make formal request by letter, signed by the mayor or city manager, addressed to Commandant (CG-092), 2100 Second St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20593. The request must include a narrative of no more than two pages describing its relationship with the local Coast Guard unit(s) in terms that would be indicative of a proactive, systematic outreach and support agenda based on community-wide efforts.

In addition, the city must provide a separate document listing specific examples of actions the community has taken and events it has sponsored that would be descriptive of how it has reached out to Coast Guard personnel, welcomed them into the community, and embraced them in a full community partnership.

A board comprised of Commandant (CG-092), (CG-00B), (CG-0922), (CG-0921), (CG-111), (CG-0944), and (CG-122) will review the request, consider recommendations from the appropriate field commands and, should the request meet the requirements detailed below, provide a recommendation to the Commandant. Upon approval by the Commandant, the appropriate congressional committees will be notified and a required 90-day waiting period will begin. With no dissent from either committee, the requesting city will be proclaimed to be "A Coast Guard City."

The proclamation will have a five-year term after which the city will be required to apply for recertification. Recertification is an abbreviated form of the procedures required for the original request in that the city need only provide a letter six months prior to the end of the five-year term describing its on-going relationship with the Coast Guard with examples of their recent programs and projects. As with the original request, letters requesting recertification should be addressed to Commandant (CG-092), and go before the Board. The designation of "A Coast Guard City" may, for cause, be rescinded with 60 days notification issued by Commandant (CG-092).

5. Requirements. A city's request will be judged against the following list of actions and programs that are examples of the types of support shown Coast Guard personnel in cities where the Coast Guard serves. It is necessary for a city to have initiated nor replicated every one of the actions listed. Rather, a city should be able to demonstrate that its people command(s) in a manner that would include, but not limited to, a number of initiatives below.

In addition, the request should specify which groups or organizations within the community are responsible for, or participated in, the initiatives. They could include city government, Chamber of Commerce, non-government organizations (e.g., Navy League), civic organizations (e.g., Lions, Kiwanis, etc.), corporate, police/sheriffs/fire departments, EMS, educational organizations, or individuals.a. Support for MWR events.b. Support for educational/scholarship programsc. Availability of community support services to Coast Guard members and their families.

Sponsorship of Sailor of the Quarter, Sailor of the Year, Recruiter of the Year, and other similar types of awardse. Demonstrations of sensitivity to life-altering events within the Coast Guard community including expressions of congratulations for weddings and newborns, and expressions of sympathy or deaths and other family tragedies.f. Sponsorship of community patriotic events that specifically include members of the Coast Guard family. These events could include but not be limited to Memorial Day picnics, July Fourth picnics, Armed Forces Day events, Veterans Day observances, Coast Guard Birthday events, etc.g. Offer military or Coast Guard "Days" within the business community, at local sporting events, and other entertainment events.h. City-Coast Guard partnerships in community-based projects including law enforcement/fire/EMS projects, civic organizational projects, food drives, home building projects, educational projects, etc. Establishing monuments, memorials, commemorations, or other tangible forms of public recognition.

Information. Questions regarding this program should be directed to the Community Relations Branch
Office of Public Affairs in Coast Guard Headquarters (CG-09223).
William H. Thiesen
Atlantic Area Historian
Commander (Ae), Coast Guard Atlantic Area
431 Crawford Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704
Office: 757-398-6643
Fax: 757-391-8109

Anne Meets with Jon and Peg Nourie

Anne met with John and Peg Nourie at their home at the end of October. Both of the Nourie's were extremely helpful and informative, as well as generous with their time.

They advised that the Coast Guard considers the Coast Guard Auxiliary as part of their own organization. So while the presence of two auxiliary organizations in the area will be good back up for the request, it cannot be thought of as being part of the city's efforts to support the Coast Guard. It will be; however, a good indication of the support that citizens provide due to their volunteer efforts.

John and Peg advised that the support of the community for the International Search and Rescue Competitions between the US and Canada which took place in the area twice in the last ten years would be very helpful to use in indicating support of the CG by the Portsmouth Community.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Contact Made - Email Sent

Anne Galvin Bremer met with Elizabeth Psimas who provided information on a couple, John and Peg Nourie, who have great expertise with the Coast Guard. The following email was sent this morning.

Dear John and Peg:

I met with Elizabeth Psimas yesterday who advised me that the two of you are very well informed about "All Things Coast Guard." I wanted to tell you about a new project which we are working on.

I am a member of Portsmouth's Mayor's Military Affairs Committee along with Elizabeth. Recently members have expressed an interest in exploring whether Portsmouth can become a Coast Guard City. As you know, this is an honor which the Coast Guard bestows on very few cities. We are in the process of getting information from current Coast Guard Cities with the goal of submitting a package soon.

I haven't had much luck in reaching the Coast Guard Auxiliary via the web site. We'd like to have you both, as well as the local Auxiliary, on board with us on the Portsmouth Coast Guard City Project. I understand from Elizabeth that your level of knowledge is extraordinary. I know we could benefit from any insights you might share with us.

Warm regards,

Anne Galvin Bremer
Portsmouth's Mayor's Military Affairs Committee
Portsmouth Coast Guard City Project Co-Chair
contact us at:

New Link to Coast Guard Article

Terry Danaher provided the following link to an article about Portsmouth's Coast Guard birthday celebration.
contact us at: