Our CBS News crew spent the night aboard the Decisive, the cutter that is the Coast Guard's main presence in the spill zone or "Ground Zero," as it's referred to on many ships and rigs out there.
and her crew were gracious hosts. They fed and bunked us, and patiently answered all our questions about the ship, their mission and Coast Guard life in general.
Our timing was good: we were aboard the same day BP finally plugged the well with its apparently successful "static kill" operation.
It was also the Coast Guard's 220th birthday, so once their day's work was over - including helping our crew get on television for Wednesday night's CBS"Evening News" - the Decisive crew was in the mood to celebrate. They grilled hamburgers and brats on the deck , just like any other all-American cook-out. This one just happened to be sixty miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, on the back deck rather than in the back yard.
The Coast Guard doesn't grab the spotlight nearly as often as the Army, Navy or Air Force. The Coast Guard has thirteen main missions, on sea and in the air, with a special focus on search and rescue, law enforcement, and marine and coastal protection.
Its motto is "Semper Paratus," or "always ready." Aboard the Decisive, the crew of seventy-five will stay as long they're needed, but like everyone else, they're good and ready for BP to kill its runaway well once and for all.
Watch Mark Strassmann's Report on board the Decisive