Pence tells Coast Guard Academy graduates they’re needed

NEW LONDON -- Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's 2018 graduating class is needed more than ever, given the threats the U.S. faces from drugs and terrorism.

Pence delivered the keynote address at Wednesday's ceremony at the campus in New London.

He credits President Donald Trump with investing in the modern technology needed by the Coast Guard and other military branches. He promises that "this commander in chief will always have your back."

Pence also praises the Coast Guard for its lifesaving efforts during last year's string of devastating hurricanes.

The president and vice present typically each address the graduating class at one of the federal service academies on a rotating basis.

About a dozen protesters held signs outside the academy gates.

***Associated Press contributed to this report***