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Reynolds did a story awhile back about the Coast Guard. He was aboard a cutter that was serving as an oil skimmer. Reynold donned the HazMat suit along with the Coasties and engaged in the laborious work aboard ship. The story illustrated the tremendous courage and dedication of USCG men and women, and the tremendous difficulty of the job they were doing with the tools they had. The key mesage was that the HazMat suits were incredibly hot and uncomfortable. I would not be surpised if in future years, when the health effects of the oil spill are tallied, if more people were hurt by the HazMat suits than by the oil fumes. Which is why I am writing. Reynolds told only half the story. The other half, which cries out for exposure, is the failure of the Coast Guard command to advance the technology. How much money has the Government spent on improving HazMat suits so that they can be worn in summer weather conditions? Is the suit Reynolds put on the best that technology can do in this area?This is only one example of USCG's techno backwardness. We all saw how they really had no independant capacity to address or even monitor an out of control well. We saw that new skimmer technolgy from Europe was totally unknown to the USCG. It had never been tested and there was no template for permitting it. From time to time CNN and other news outlets have carried stories about the problems USCG has had replacing its severely out-of-date fleet. Before the Deepwater Horizon there was the $24 billion Integrated Deepwater System (IDS) program, to replace USCG's aging fleet. The Coast Guard fleet has been ranked as the 40th most modern navy in the world, somewhere behind the Peruvian Navy I think. Most of the people who serve on USCG cutters are younger than the ships they serve on. The IDS is one of the larger boondoggles in recent years. While efforts are being made in USCG and Congress to remedy the problems, there is still a long way to go. The point of all this is that the brave men and women whose work was so well documented by Reynolds are not getting the tools they deserve and need to accomplish the growing numbers of missions we expect them to perform. I hope you will cover this story. I would be happy to talk further with you on this subject
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