PANAMA CITY, Fla (WMBB) — Bay County was designated as a Coast Guard Community on Thursday.

Bay County prides itself on its military presence and helping the men and women who protect and serve the community every day. The United States Coast Guard recognizes these efforts and thanked the community in a big way. 

“Bay County embraces the Coast Guard, not only the Coast Guard. They embrace every DOD branch in this area,” said Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Justin Irwin. “It’s been a pleasure. It’s been an honor. It’s just amazing how not only they support active duty, but they also take account of the spouses and all the resources available for the spouses and the family.”

The first Coast Guard station in Bay County was established in 1933 at St. Andrews Marina. It moved to Alligator Bayou in Panama City Beach in 1971 where it stands today. Officials say Bay County has always felt like a Coast Guard Community and Thursday’s ceremony was just a formality. 

“They help the families out with getting jobs, the kids in the community,” said MCPO Irwin. “They also helped during the government shutdown a few years ago, embracing us with several other things, like feeding the shipmates and the Coast Guard and stuff like that.” 

The designation comes a day before the launch of the Coast Guard’s newest offshore patrol cutter, Argus. Argus is 1 of 4 offshore cutters being built by Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City. 

“A lot of people put their heart and souls into making that come to fruition,” said Bay County Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Chairman Garrett Anderson. “I know it’ll be a great event tomorrow to launch that ship. It’s a great milestone for our community to be able to launch that ship.”

The launch will take place Friday afternoon. The Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Linda Fagan, will be there for the launch.