Semper Paratus Sunday - Marine Environment Protection and Living Marine Resources Law Enforcement

Updated: Jan 12

Did you know that the U.S. Coast Guard plays an important role in serving the environment; in fact, of its 11 statutory missions, two specifically focus on environmental protection and resources: Marine Environment Protection and Living Marine Resources Law Enforcement. One of the enlisted ratings (jobs) in the Coast Guard that support these missions is Marine Science Technician or MST.

MSTs perform a wide variety of jobs in the Coast Guard and work alongside agencies such as FEMA, EPA, OSHA, as well as local law enforcement, EMS, local fire departments, and businesses to protect Federal waterways and the public from oil and hazardous material spills.

MSTs conduct safety and security inspections of vessels, shipping containers, and commercial waterfront facilities. MSTs also earn many Incident Command Systems, or ICS, qualifications, including Pollution Responder, Facilities Inspector, DIVS/Group Supervisor, and many more!

Did you know that even as a high school student, you can earn basic ICS qualifications that will allow you to assist with FEMA response? ICS 100: Introduction to the Incident Command System and ICS 200: Basic ICS for Initial Response are two great INDOC courses that you can take as a Sea Cadet!

MSTs can be stationed at various units along our nation’s coasts and on the Great Lakes. Newly-graduated MSTs may even be sent to the National Response Center to take reports of pollution and offshore incidents or they may also be stationed at sectors (district command centers). MSTs are prevalent at Marine Safety Units and Marine Safety Detachments located along all Federal waterways, including the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.

MSTs also work for the Marine Safety Lab in New London, CT, The International Ice Patrol, and onboard one of two Polar Icebreakers—the Polar Star and the Healy.

The Marine Safety Laboratory (MSL) is a CG unit located in New London, CT. The MSL provides the best forensic support for Coast Guard oil pollution law enforcement. This is the Coast Guard's sole facility for performing forensic oil analysis. The MSL’s goal is to continue finding new ways to enhance oil spill sampling and improve the forensic process.


The mission of the International Ice Patrol is to monitor the iceberg danger near the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and provide the iceberg limit to the maritime community, including ice and current conditions. The ice patrol is a U.S. Coast Guard unit that collaborates with the Canadian Ice Service and the U.S. National Ice Center under the North American Ice Service.


Polar Star. Commissioned in 1976, the CGC Polar Star was built by Lockheed Shipbuilding along with her now decommissioned sister ship, POLAR SEA. The Coast Guard Cutter HEALY (WAGB - 20) is United States' newest and most technologically advanced polar icebreaker. Homeported in Seattle, Washington, US Coast Guard Cutter POLAR STAR is the United States' only heavy icebreaker. Three aviation-grade gas turbine engines provide USCGC POLAR STAR with up to 75,000 horsepower, making her the most powerful ship in the US Coast Guard. Each year, POLAR STAR travels to McMurdo Station, Antarctica to lead Operation Deep Freeze and break miles of ice up to 21 feet thick.

Healy. The CGC HEALY is designed to conduct a wide range of research activities, providing more than 4,200 square feet of scientific laboratory space, numerous electronic sensor systems, oceanographic winches, and accommodations for up to 50 scientists.

If you would like to learn more about the role of the MST, the International Ice Patrol, or the Coast Guard Ice Breakers, feel free to reach out to me!

Semper Paratus!

Lt. Laura Garofalo, USCG

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