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Custom Challenge Coin of the Month – October 2016

This month’s custom military challenge coin celebrates the USCGC Chinook, a Marine Protector-class Patrol boat which has been in service since the beginning of this millennium. The Coast Guard utilizes Protector-class boats like the Chinook to combat drug smuggling, police our nation’s borders, and offer search and rescue support both to first responders and on their own. These vessels are powerful and fast, making short work of the choppy surf off the coast of the United States. Measuring just short of 90 ft long, Protector-class boats accommodate crews of up to 12 men and women. These teams are equipped to face the challenges that the Coast Guard offers, often going places and doing things no one else can.


Often given the umbrella title cutter, boats like the USCGC Chinook form the backbone of the Coast Guard’s Fleet. Build for speed and maneuverability, as well as versatility, these Coast Guard Cutters are emblematic of the Coast Guard’s overall mission to protect the Marine security of the United States. When the Coast Guard needs to board another vessel underway in the water, Protector-class vessels utilize a launching ramp built into the boat’s stern. This ramp allows them to deploy a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) in order to approach vessels slated for inspection. In addition to this capability, most Protector-class vessels also come equipped with at least two and sometimes more 50 caliber machine guns. This drives home the dangerous nature of the Coast Guard’s mission. Sometimes, we do not appreciate the risk Coast Guard personnel put themselves in every day. Drug smugglers, human traffickers, and even dangerous foreign agents all encounter the Coast Guard. As the first line of defense against them, the Coast Guard must be prepared.


This month’s featured military challenge coin celebrates the USCGC Chinook and the crew that man it. The coin itself is striking. On the obverse face, we see a chinook salmon rendered in bright debossed nickel finish surrounded by a nautical-style star. The inscription around the edge reads “USCGC Chinook” across the top and “WPB 87308” along the bottom. To those who know what they are looking at, this speaks volumes. It calls to mind the valor and duty of the men and women of the Coast Guard.


The reverse face is bright oceanic blue, featuring the Coast Guard seal rendered in stunning detail and full color. Around the edge, we find rope detailing on both sides, driving home the custom nature of this challenge coin. In the hand, this coin feels weighty and substantial. Whether held by the initial recipient or received over the course of time, this coin is sure to impress.


Those who work on protector class boats everyday know that without these valuable assets, our coastlines would be vulnerable to invasion and attack. With their powerful engines operating at maximum speed, protector class boats like the Chinook can easily overtake smaller, slower vessels. At full throttle, the USCGC Chinook can achieve a top speed of 26 knots, which is roughly 30 miles an hour. Though this does not sound fast compared to the speed of many land vehicles, pushing the nose of an 87-foot-long boat through choppy, rough waters is no mean feat. It takes incredible power and a crew who knows how to use it.


As the Coast Guard has become involved in more and more Department of Defense missions in the Caribbean, coast guard Cutters like the USCGC Chinook have become more and more prominent on the sea. Patrolling the waters between Florida and Cuba, offering aid to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, and securing the Gulf of Mexico, these versatile cutters intercept issues before they become big problems. Without this added layer of security, the coastline of America would be vulnerable. With this added layer of security, the United States plays host to some of the safest and most secure ports and beaches in the world.

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