A couple of things while you're here, Mr. President
A community should never consider a visit by the president of the United States to be routine, but the fact that it appears something akin to that in New London once again demonstrates how remarkable and fortuitous it is that the city is home to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. That is something that New London should never take for granted.
President Barack Obama will be the keynote speaker Wednesday at the academy’s 134th commencement ceremony, continuing a tradition in which presidents rotate annually among graduation ceremonies at the nation’s five service academies.
There will be a few traffic delays near the academy, a small inconvenience for the privilege of hosting a visit by the president. The weather forecast for the commencement that begins at 11 a.m. could not be better for the 223 graduates, their families and invited guests — sunny with a high temperature of 70 degrees.
While this is a day to set aside partisanship and focus on the accomplishments of the Class of 2015, we don’t want to miss the opportunity to raise a couple of related matters while we have President Obama in town.
These new officers deserve the nation’s support in carrying out their mission, however, fiscally speaking at least, that support has been lacking in recent years. In his State of the Coast Guard Address in February, Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft’s warned that “aging platforms and crumbling infrastructure continue to hinder mission success.”
“It is a case of resources — regrettably, we have lost nearly 40 percent of our acquisition budget over the last four years. We have $40 million a year to buy down $1.4 billion in needed shore infrastructure repairs,” the admiral continued.
The average age of a Coast Guard cutter is 46 years. By comparison, the average Navy surface ship is 22. At the current acquisition rate, some cutters will be 55 by the time construction of the next-generation Offshore Patrol Cutter begins.
Anything you can do, Mr. President, to prod Congress to boost funding would be most appreciated by this community and the graduates who will be shaking your hand.
You might also hear today about efforts to open the first National Coast Guard Museum on the New London waterfront. Museum supporters have to raise a lot of money to make it possible. Presidential backing both now and post-presidency can only help.
The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.
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