US Coast Guard Aviation – Captain Jonathan Spaner

Capt. Jonathan Spanner

Capt. Jonathan Spanner

Gramps was delighted to have Coast Guard Captain Jonathan Spaner as our speaker for March. Capt. Spaner is a pilot qualified in the C-130 as well as the HH-60 Eurocopter. He currently is the Director of the Office of Emerging Policy for the U.S. Coast Guard in Washington, D.C. He was in Iraq and Afghanistan and is a delegate to the Arctic Council. He described the size and function of the U.S. Coast Guard, citing the $10 billion budget and the roughly 85 thousand personnel as well as the 250+ Cutters, 1784 boats and 198 aircraft.

The authority of the CG includes inspection, search & rescue, response to oil spills, and maritime security which includes dealing with the Mexican drug cartels. Its jurisdiction includes vast area of the United States, including many areas one would not think of as “coastal” such as Arizona. Included are Guam, Honolulu, San Juan Puerto Rico, and Alaska. In the continental U.S. it includes the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River as well as many other inland waterways.

Spanner02Spanner03There are three Sectors in California: San Francisco, Los Angeles-Long Beach and San Diego. The San Diego sector includes much of Arizona. The San Diego sector deals extensively with the Mexican drug trafficking trade. We learned that much of the drugs are brought up on jet-skis that are rented in the U.S., taken to Mexico where drugs are purchased and then brought back to the U.S. These imports are so profitable that only an 8-10 percent success rate is necessary to break even! Good intelligence is necessary to successfully deal with these criminals. It is estimated that the Coast Guard misses very few of the smugglers.


The issue of the Sinaloa cartel and the Islamic State combining or  cooperating was discussed. In his opinion this was very unlikely since the goals and standards of each group were so different and truly incompatible. However, it should be recognized that the cartels will smuggle anything for money. The issue of the global climate change was presented, with diagrams of the North Polar Region in 1992 and 2012 that show a large loss of ice covered area. This opens ocean area for shipping routes especially useful to Russia that has 30 % of its area north of the Arctic Circle. There has also been a northward shift of fish populations. There is a large amount of oil and gas present in this area that could be utilized as well as economic advances such as shorter flight routes, shipping lanes and deposit of minerals.


Jonathan also mentioned that the Russians at one time planted a Russian flag at the North Pole —claiming title? We are grateful to Capt. Spaner for his work on behalf of our country and his fine presentation.

GPS CO Tim Brown thanks Capt. Jonathan Spaner

GPS CO Tim Brown thanks Capt. Jonathan Spaner


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