US Coast Guard Station Merrimack River
Protecting Our Local Waters for Over 225 Years
Newburyport’s Maritime First Responders
The US Coast Guard Station Merrimack River is a critical resource closely connected to Newburyport’s maritime history and a strong source of pride for locals. The US Coast Guard, originally named the Revenue Cutter Service, was officially established on August 4, 1790 to enforce tariffs and prevent smuggling with the use of ten oceangoing vessels…known as cutters. The very first revenue cutter to enter active service, the USRC Massachusetts, was built in Newburyport in 1791. In 1915, the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the US Life-Saving Service and was renamed the US Coast Guard…then and now, dedicated to enforcing US maritime laws and saving lives at sea. Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the US Coast Guard came under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security.
US Coast Guard Station Merrimack River in Newburyport is one of only 19 surf stations in the country…defined by the area having seas or swells greater than 8′ or winds exceeding 30 knots at least 36 days a year. Station Merrimack River is the only surf station in New England and one of only 4 surf stations along the entire East Coast, reminding us that the Merrimack River waters, though beautiful to be on and surrounded by, can often be unsafe and challenging to navigate.
The adverse winter and spring weather conditions often occurring in the Northeast allow the crew at Station Merrimack River to conduct trainings to stay proficient in a host of rescue skills and prepare for the busy summer season, May through Labor Day. US Coast Guard Station Merrimack River has a 29′ response boat and (2) 47′ motor lifeboats capable of responding to distress in up to 50 knots of wind, 20′ breaking surf and 30-foot seas. Along with ensuring the education and training of their surfmen and women, their primary focus is on recreational boater safety, fisheries law enforcement and conducting search and rescue.
The motto of the US Coast Guard is Semper Paratus, (Latin for ‘Always Ready’). Station Merrimack River currently has 30 strictly active-duty crew members and it is operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are considering a career change with hands-on training in which you will truly make a difference, there are many opportunities and paths to take in the US Coast Guard and they are encouraging more women to join their diverse ranks. Members of the Guard live and are guided by their core values: Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty.
US Coast Guard Station Merrimack River opens its doors to the public during Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming held each August. You can tour the boats and meet the crew who will answer questions and provide boater safety information at the annual Coast Guard Open House event. You can also see live views of the station and the Merrimack River any time from the Newburyport.com Live Web Cams hosted by the Lighthouse Preservation Society. A visit to Newburyport’s Custom House Maritime Museum is a must for history buffs; members of USCG Station Merrimack River often volunteer here.
Whether you have lived in Newburyport for years or are just visiting the area, you can be appreciative of the rich seafaring history here and grateful for the men and women of USCG Station Merrimack River and the duties they perform each and every day. Help them by being prepared before you head out onto the water…know the boating and paddle craft rules to follow and stay aware of the often-unpredictable currents. Though they are well trained and certified to handle any situation, the Coast Guard would rather provide you with the information to prevent a distress signal rather than respond to one. One of the best parts of enjoying these local waters is having fun while staying safe. Article written by Newburyport.com Correspondent, Jenny Davis.