“Should the day ever come when our ports and ships are targets for enemy sabotage, these men will be ready. Should the day ever come when the sea around us becomes a haven for enemy submarines, these men will be ready. Should the day ever come when this barren stretch of beach becomes a port of entry for enemy agents, these men will be ready.”
It is with this dramatic preface that the viewer is introduced to the 17,000 officers, men, and women who make up the United States Coast Guard Reserves, via this color film entitled “Should the Day Ever Come.”
Produced in the mid- or late 1960s, the film flashes various scenes of the USCG in action, from pilots to mechanics to helicopter crew members. “The roles and missions of the United States Coast Guard in peacetime are well known to most Americans…,” the narrator explains beginning at mark 01:43. “There influence is felt in all areas of merchant shipping and they are known to all those who cruise our waterways in pleasure boats.” This in addition to USCG assignments in the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as saving those in peril at sea.
But even in peacetime, the narrator explains near mark 03:00, the Coast Guard must maintain a state of readiness in case of attack. “The men and women of the Coast Guard Reserves are a well-trained, well-disciplined force in readiness.”
A montage of scenes are shown, as we see enlisted personnel undertaking a variety of duties onboard a ship during their two-week active assignments. Scenes of firefighters are mixed with crew members repelling down ropes during training exercises before we are taken to the Port of New York at mark 04:46. In the event of a national emergency, we are told, this port and other ports across the country will be placed under full security, with the Coast Guard taking the lead in protection. Security is just one role of the USCG, we are told, as members must also learn how to control merchant ships, regulate movement of vessels in territorial waters, control the movement of small crafts, and inspect cargo, as well as search-and-rescue techniques.
To ensure reservists are ready, especially in the area of port security, regular meetings are held, the narrator explains starting at mark 07:00, and receive training in anti-sabotage techniques, anti-espionage operations, and chemical and radiological defense procedures.
At mark 07:41 we see the USCGC Courier (WTR-410) as reservists learn how use winches and other cargo-handling gear. And at mark 08:33 we catch a glimpse of the USCGC Rockaway (W377) during a discussion of how the Coast Guard regularly conducts military exercises … just in case … to make vessels ready for war, whether they be utility boats, patrol boats, or cutters. If necessary, the Coast Guard will activate vessels currently part of a “moth ball fleet,” as the camera, at mark 12:00, shows rows of inactive or decommissioned ships.
In preparation, reserves learn a myriad of fields including electronics, communications, and navigation, “to be ready, should the day ever come.”
Aviation also plays a major role in Coast Guard operation, the viewer is informed starting at mark 13:00, whether in peacetime or wartime. It is also imperative in search-and-rescue or surveillance operations, through the use of amphibious aircraft, long-range patrol planes, helicopters — all of which are shown via footage. Officers and enlisted personnel also are trained in aviation support units.
Near mark 17:00, this film returns its viewer to the sea, and the USCG duty to enforce enforce all federal laws pertaining to the merchant marines, which transports cargo and passengers during peacetime and in time of war becomes an auxiliary to the United States Navy.
“Should the day ever come, reservists, training and merchant marine safety units will be called to active duty as needed to investigate marine disasters and to inspect ships under construction for the wartime fleet,” we are told at mark 18:10.
The abundance of information included in this film is not lost on the narrator, who remarks at mark 21:08, “Because the roles and missions of the Coast Guard Reserves in wartime are so many and so varied, every man must be a specialist — not in one job but many.”
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com