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Maritime News
United States Coast Guard
by Jim Guidry
Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The United States Coast Guard officially broke ground for its new facility at Ellington Field on Tuesday.

Rear Admiral Roy Nash, commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District, reviewed the evolution of coast guard operations in the Houston-Galveston area; and the need for new facilities. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer

“We’ve had a great opportunity in Houston to do something that is much needed,” Admiral Nash said.  “We have grown.  The coast guard’s grown.  Our partnerships have grown.  We need a bigger building.”

Captain James Whitehead, commander of Sector Houston-Galveston said the groundbreaking ceremony marks the beginning of a new era for Sector Houston-Galveston.

“We will be joining an outstanding collection of other talent here at Ellington Field,” Whitehead said.  “Acquired by the City of Houston in 1984, and part of the Houston Airport System, Ellington now supports operations of the United States military, including several national guard units, joint reserve base, Coast Guard Air Station Houston – it’s been here many years before us, NASA and others,” Whitehead said. 

Craig Southorn, vice president of M. A. Mortenson Company, the design-build contractor for the new facility, also participated in the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We are especially honored to be part of the team delivering this facility to support the vital mission of the coast guard,” Southorn said.

Former sector commander Captain Bill Diehl, now president of the Greater Houston Port Bureau, recalled the support of coast guard officials after Hurricane Ike destroyed many facilities in the Houston-Galveston area.

“We get this call, on like day four, and they said how much money do you need to rebuild?” Diehl said, explaining that he asked Captain Marcus Woodring, who followed him as commander of the sector and now is head of security for the port of Houston Authority, to provide an estimate.  “We sent it up to the admiral and the next day they called me and said ‘You’re going to get the money’.”

There were intermittent rain showers during the speeches.  During a lull in the weather, the party moved from beneath the tent to officially break ground.

Captain Hal Pitts was master of ceremonies and Chaplain Randal Potter delivered the invocation and consecration.

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