It’s a television docuseries that follows the U.S. Coast Guard as they protect and patrol against drug runners, smugglers and human traffickers, as well as saving lives of those in need of rescue. Season 1’s first episode of “Coast Guard Mission Critical” will air on Saturday, June 20 at 7 a.m. on the History Channel. The Florida Keys are featured throughout.

Episode 3, in fact, features the rescue and then, sadly, the recovery efforts of Coast Guardsmen from Station Marathon after a plane crashed near Rachel Key off Marathon in 2019, killing two people. 

Master Chief Timaree Sparks from Station Marathon is one of the most bad*$$ women I’ve ever met,” said Cork Friedman, executive producer of Rumlime Productions. “She was off that day, but keeping track of her crew’s progress on the water.” Friedman said Sparks was there at the dock to meet her young crew on their return. 

“They exhibited both compassion and world-class professionalism,” he said. “I want to educate the world on the prolific missions of the Coast Guard and how much they do and how underappreciated they are,” Friedman said.

The show’s action is gripping. Rumlime Productions embeds a cameraman-producer with the crews and outfits the Coasties with 360-degree body cameras. 

“When they jump in a drug boat, you (the viewer) are jumping on the drug boat. When the rescue swimmer descends the cable and hits the waters and swims, you are that swimmer. You can see the fear in the eyes of the person being rescued who thought they were going to die,” Friedman said.

Season 1 features the Coast Guard’s missions in Florida and also the Pacific Northwest which highlights some of the service’s drug interdiction work. (“All I can say is that it was filmed somewhere in the Eastern Pacific Ocean,” Friedman said.) The Florida episodes feature Station Marathon, Station Islamorada, Sector Key West as well as the Air Station Miami which dispatches aircraft to the different scenes. There are 10 episodes in Season 1, the first six committed to the History Channel. A new episode will air every week.

“This is the culmination of eight years of work,” Friedman said. “I’ve waited and waited until the stars aligned.” He calls it the most robust, unscripted television series ever produced about a U.S. military branch. He credits Coast Guard Sector Key West Commander Capt. Adam Chamie for his help getting the show off the ground, as well as former Coastie and now Marathon City Manager Chuck Lindsey. 

“You get to see the personalities and the character of these service men and women,” Friedman said. Sparks agrees, saying Episode 2 starts with “Boot Key shenanigans” that also highlights the work of the FWC.

“This tv show really illustrates the good things the Coast Guard does throughout the country and beyond,” said Sparks. “And I have to thank the locals. They were really receptive to being filmed, such as in rescue cases.”

Friedman’s background in TV includes reality and documentaries … and some early childhood experiences.

“My dad took up sailing when I was very young. He wasn’t all that great at it, so I have an affinity for the Coast Guard. More than once they towed us to shore, back when they did that kind of thing,” Friedman said, laughing.

The first episode of “Coast Guard Mission Critical” airs on Saturday, June 20, at 7 a.m. on the History Channel. (To help the show’s producers with Nielsen ratings, set the tv to record if you don’t plan on being up that early.) Viewers can also see it on the FYI network beginning Sunday, June 21 through July 26 at 6 p.m., or view it online at the History Channel website from Sunday, June 22 through Aug. 22. 

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