By Chief Petty Officer Cynthia Oldham and Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly Reaves
Saving mariners in distress is a primary Coast Guard mission - and what the sea service is most known for. Behind the scenes, though, Coast Guard members protect and secure our ports and waterways across a variety of missions that safeguard the flow of commerce into communities.
More than 95 percent of cargo entering the United States arrives by ship, and ports that accommodate container ships serve as important gateways for trade. The Port of Baltimore, one of the country’s top and most diverse ports, handled a record 43.3 million tons of international cargo last year to facilitate $74.3 billion worth of essential resources into local markets and Maryland communities.
In service to the nation and the local community, Coast Guard women and men from Sector Maryland-Nation Capital Region in Curtis Bay, Maryland, monitor and protect the flow of commerce into the Port of Baltimore as part of the Coast Guard’s mission to protect the maritime environment and marine transportation system.
Without the Coast Guard’s critical maritime prevention mission, port security, the economy, and the marine environment would be at risk.
To execute their maritime prevention missions, Coast Guard members team up with federal, state, and local government partners, as well as the marine industry to monitor and protect the Port of Baltimore and Chesapeake Bay while still allowing an efficient flow of goods into and out of the Chesapeake Bay.
One Coast Guard member who helps protect the Chesapeake Bay and the commerce entering and exiting the Port of Baltimore is Petty Officer 2nd Class Caleb Mabry, a marine science technician assigned to Coast Guard Sector Maryland-NCR's prevention department.
Mabry chose to join the Coast Guard after graduating from Cape Fear Community College, in North Carolina, with a degree in marine science technology. He was drawn to this degree because of his love for the ocean, and now it directly translates to his current duties in the Coast Guard.
“I love being on the water. My career in the Coast Guard affords me the opportunity to not only work on the water but live by the water and spend my free time at the beach with my family,” said Mabry. “My love of the ocean also translates directly to me wanting to ensure the safety of the marine environment, like we do here in the Chesapeake Bay.”
The Chesapeake Bay, which serves as the entrance to the Port of Baltimore, is our nation's largest estuary and spans more than 64,000 square miles. This critical resource is relied on by more than 18 and a half million people who live in the area.
Mabry and a team of specialized marine science technicians, chief warrant officers, and commissioned officers board and examine commercial cargo ships, inspect waterfront facilities and the containers entering the Port of Baltimore, and respond to breaches of security within Coast Guard Sector Maryland-NCR’s area of responsibility.
So far in 2023, Mabry's small team has inspected more than 1,800 combined facilities and containers and responded to approximately 50 security breaches.
“By conducting vessel, facility and container inspections, we prevent potential acts of terrorism, human trafficking, the import of illegal hazardous material, drugs and more,” said Mabry. “Through our inspection efforts, we ensure the safety of our major port facilities, the vessels that call here and their crews."
The work Mabry and his team perform to prevent disruptions to maritime commerce is important for the United States, but also influences international trade.
“My team and I ensure the security of our partner ports and trade between other nations with the U.S.,” said Mabry. “We inspect the containers that enter and leave the Port of Baltimore heading to other ports - whether that be to another U.S. port or an international port.”
Mabry’s efforts recently played a critical role in shaping the trade landscape between the U.S. and Egypt’s Suez Canal when he served as the host for six foreign dignitaries from Egypt to the United States. During the visit, Mabry coordinated and conducted two facility inspections and highlighted the Port of Baltimore’s record operations in 2023 and the Coast Guard's role in ensuring the safety, security and efficiency of the marine transportation system.
As trade growth continues and partnerships grow, the Coast Guard and servicemembers like Mabry and his team will become increasingly important to protect and defend the safe and efficient movement of more than $5.4 trillion in economic activity going through the country’s ports and waterways each year.
If you would like to work alongside others who have the drive to save lives, serve others, and shield the nation from threats, Coast Guard service is for you. Set yourself up for a bright future while making the world a better place. Talk to a Coast Guard recruiter today!
Visit www.gocoastguard.com to connect with a Coast Guard recruiter.