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New base for U.S. Coast Guard on Fort Myers Beach

the construction of the new Coast Guard Station on Fort Myers Beach features a number of upgrades on the former station built in 1983. The new base cost approximately $30 million.

Posted on June 3, 2024

After more than two years of being based in their unorthodox, temporary headquarters at Moss Marina, the U.S. Coast Guard is back at their old home on Fort Myers Beach in a new $30 million base.

The move back to a fortified station is a welcome relief for members who had to deal with Hurricane Ian taking apart their digs at Moss Marina while they awaited the construction of the new base to be completed. The new facility was constructed over the course of about two and half years after the Coast Guard took down its San Carlos Drive station which had stood for 41 years off San Carlos Island and replaced it with the new three-story structure.

“It’s a huge upgrade,” Fort Myers Beach Coast Guard Second Class Boatswain Mate/Petty Officer Dean Marandos said, during a recent tour of the station.

After Hurricane Ian damaged their temporary headquarters at Moss Marina, the Coast Guard’s Fort Myers Beach personnel were living in trailers at the site across the waters from their base. The Coast Guard members had been stationed in a warehouse, when the roof blew off during Hurricane Ian.

“It was tough to come back to,” Marandos said. “We had a lot of people that left their stuff (at Moss Marina). A lot of people lost their stuff.”

U.S. Coast Guard Second Class Boatswain Mate/Petty Officer Dean Marandos, who is stationed at Fort Myers Beach

Marandos said he lost his personal sleeping bag though others lost more personal items. The Coast Guard replaced the gear and other items of servicemembers. Grants were issued to help those who lost belongings.

“It’s been a long road,” Marandos said. “It’s all worth it now.”

Among the improvements of the new station compared to the old station, and even the trailers they were at just a few months ago, is each Coast Guard servicemember now has their own bathroom in their dorm rooms. At Moss Marina, the Coast Guard servicemembers would have to use one of three public restrooms that were on the site that were also used by those visiting Moss Marina or other businesses on the property.

“Now I have my own bathroom, my own shower,” Marandos said.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which has had a presence on Fort Myers Beach and San Carlos Island since 1963, has a more modern home now for its force with additional security measures and fencing.

Coast Guard Seaman Tyler Yergens, of Fort Myers, works on repairing a boat at the new Coast Guard base on Fort Myers Beach.

The new station gives the Coast Guard its own pier again. They maintain an 87-feet long cutter named “Crocodile,” a 45-feet long response boat and two 29-feet long response boats. They have a ramp and enclosed bays with cranes to wash and repair the boats, rather than taking them elsewhere for service. They have specialized drains to make sure any contaminants from cleaning and washing ends up in a tank, rather than the Gulf of Mexico. Previously, the Coast Guard had to transport its boats by trailer to Sanibel for maintenance.

There is a new indoor fitness center in addition to a fitness center outside. A grill is also on hand for those who want to barbecue.

Marandos is one of a handful of Coast Guard servicemembers on Fort Myers Beach who have stayed here since before the move. A Long Island native, the 24-year-old has been with the Coast Guard for six years. He is one of about 35 active duty personnel on site in addition to reservists. Marandos spends two days at the station at a time followed by two days off. The station is meant to accommodate more than 90 people, including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary recently completed a number of public engagement events offering boat safety classes and boat safety checks at the station.

The new station includes new parking lots, utilities, and other infrastructure such as the replacement of an existing bulkhead, and the replacement of existing piers with a new floating pier.

The Coast Guard Station on Fort Myers Beach features a 45-feet long rescue boat, two 29-feet long response boats and an 87-feet long cutter.

The unit at Fort Myers Beach covers Lee County down to Collier County and Ten Thousand Islands in the Everglades and as far north as Gasparilla Sound around the Charlotte County area. Their duties include search and rescue operations and inspections of commercial and recreational boats in the area.

The Coast Guard protects the shores of the United States from illicit activity and smuggling. The members of the Coast Guard patrol the waters in their coverage area, responding to boat accidents, calls for assistance when boats may get stuck in a sandbar and partner with other agencies such as the Lee County Sheriff’s Office on maritime responses.

Marandos said he is most proud of rescue operations he has taken part in to help rescue boaters who were stranded such as one incident in Marco Island where a boat broke down before a major storm hit. “If we hadn’t been there, they would have been in a lot more trouble,” he said.

“There are a lot of calls we work with other government agencies. Anytime somebody calls 911 and it is water-related, we response. We get a lot of calls,” he said.

Marandos said the call demand has grown in recent years. He said the Coast Guard was most busy locally during the covid pandemic when the boat traffic increased. “As people keep moving here, it gets a little busier,” he said. He thinks new boaters are getting more acclimated to the area. “The water is always moving and the sand bars are always shifting. People have figured it out,” he said. “Accidents always happen. What’s why we are always here.”

The U.S. Coast Guard’s 87-feet long cutter named “Crocodile.”

Previous to the old station that was constructed in 1980, the Coast Guard had been based out of a temporary houseboat from 1963. A new station was needed to repair damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017 as well as general deterioration since 1980, according to Coast Guard officials.

the station incurred damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017 – and general deterioration over the 41 years it has been in operation.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Marandos said.

Marandos said he enjoys being part of the Coast Guard because “they take care of their people. They are always looking out for everyone’s best interest.”

New maintenance bays at the U.S. Coast Guard Station on Fort Myers Beach allow personnel to work on repairing boats and cleaning them on site.

The new pier at the Fort Myers Beach Coast Guard station.

The new Coast Guard station on Fort Myers Beach has a new indoor fitness center and outdoor fitness center.

The U.S. Coast Guard base on Fort Myers Beach includes a grill for barbecues.

For more than two years, the U.S. Coast Guard was station at Moss Marina, across the bay from the Coast Guard station, while a new base was built.

The front entrance at the new three-story Coast Guard Station features updated security systems and a new fence.


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