A new series follows the Coast Guard on patrols of the U.S. coastline for drug runners, smugglers, human traffickers, and those in need of rescue.
Coast Guard: Mission Critical features real missions throughout the country. It is produced by Rumline for the History channel and it's making waves; pun intended.
The Coast Guard has been involved in other shows in the past, but this one is different. Viewers will see multiple areas of responsibility and various unique Coast Guard missions throughout its six episodes. The average day in the life of a coastie includes search and rescue operations, drug interdictions, law enforcement, security boardings, and more. The show gives a glimpse into what it's like.
According to Commander Steven Youde, who currently serves in the Coast Guard Motion Picture and Television office, the executive producer had been wanting to create this show for years.
"I think he has had this planned all along. He wanted to go a little further and make it more diverse by including not just one location but make it Coast Guard wide," he shared.
"A doc-series like this is really great exposure to what happens behind the scenes in the Coast Guard," Youde explained.
He added that big drug interdictions and counter narcotic missions aren't witnessed just for the simple fact that they happen so far out at sea. Thanks to this show, the public will get to see how it all goes down.
Photo credit: Credit Rumline Productions
Maritime Enforcement Specialist Second Class Michael Bashe is currently a part of the Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET) in Miami. These detachments are highly specialized and deployable law enforcement teams. Their mission is to conduct and support maritime law enforcement, interdiction, or security operations. He was deployed to the Coast Guard Cutter Munro in the Pacific to assist with drug interdictions and the film crew came along for the ride.
"My dad was a police officer for 25 years and was a prior Marine. He told me, 'Coast Guard is where it's at.' The ME rating just came out and I knew that's what I wanted to do. The different missions that we do as ME's and leadership responsibilities and roles that we have is incredible," Bashe shared.
He's spent his entire career on ships focusing on counter narcotics. Bashe has also been deployed overseas with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) in Bahrain to support the U.S. Navy. When Bashe returned stateside his number one pick was TACLET South in Miami.
"The rewarding feeling that you get when you have a successful interdiction is indescribable," Bashe said.
He appears in the first three episodes when he and another TACLET member safely and successfully apprehend suspected drug smugglers. Bashe says he loves that the public gets to see this important aspect of what the Coast Guard does, but that there's so much more.
"I like that they get to see what we do at TACLET, but I really like that they were able to integrate the small boat stations and air stations. They are such crucial parts of any coastal city," he said.
BM2 Hillary Burtnett. Photo credit: MK2 David Wiegman
The Coast Guard has small boat and air stations all over the country. US Coast Guard Station Marathon is located in the Florida keys and the film crew spent almost four months following coasties on their missions there. Boatswain's Mate Second Class Hillary Burtnett was a part of the show and although she found it cumbersome to have the camera crew underfoot, she's glad the public will get to see some of what they do.
As a female BM, Burtnett is definitely part of a heavily male dominated rate or job.
"It's different, but the guys are very respectful. We are all a team, we are out there to get it done and work together," she said.
Although her shipmates treat her equally, it doesn't always happen everywhere she goes. Burtnett shared that in one of the episodes, a man they rescued became very inappropriate onboard with her.
"There was a whole bunch of stuff that they didn't show. It was tough because I was just out there trying to do my job and he was borderline harassing me but I maintained professionalism," Burtnett shared.
She doesn't let it get to her though and instead chooses to focus on the mission.
Burtnett recently left US Coast Guard Station Marathon for a new adventure. She'll be on a national security cutter headed to Bahrain. She is excited to head to a big boat again, explaining that there's nothing like the comradery of being on one. Another aspect of the service that isn't typically known by the public or other branches of the service: you can find coasties serving all over the world.
This show gives the public a rare, honest glimpse into the Coast Guard. Cork Friedman, Executive Producer of Rumline Productions, wants to show you even more.
"Quite honestly, most folks don't know a fraction of what the US Coast Guard does, so my passion for creating this series is directed by three principle objectives, to show the world the diversity of missions that the Coast Guard performs each and every day, to deliver the most robust, accurate docuseries ever produced featuring the real life stories of our United States Coast Guard, and to capture the intrinsic character possessed by the men and women who wear the US Coast Guard uniform," Friedman said.