Coast Guard lacks funds to chase drugs, maintain fleet, commandant says
CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. -- Congress got an SOS Tuesday from Adm. Paul Zukunft, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.
He said the Coast Guard is busier than ever chasing drug runners, but that it can't do the job without more money.
CBS News was aboard thein 2015 after it seized tons of drugs from fast boats and makeshift submarines. Correspondent Carter Evans got a look at $800 million worth of cocaine that the Coast Guard picked up.
Zukunft says that now, the drugs keep coming, and last year, the Coast Guard couldn't even chase hundreds of shipments it knew about.
"There were over 500 events that literally eluded us," Zukunft said. "We knew they were out there. This really came down to we didn't have enough planes, we didn't have enough ships."
He says much of his fleet is decades past retirement age. And the Coast Guard needs $1.5 billion just to catch up on maintenance.
Chief Warrant Officer Bill Hantzmon is captain of the 55-year-old Sledge.
"This ship is 11 years older than you!" Evans said.
"It is," Hantzmon replied.
He and his crew spend their days maintaining buoys and navigational aids, but sometimes, they're forced to jury-rig parts for their own ship because they aren't made anymore.