Coast Guard addresses notification process for local exercises

JUNEAU, Alaska – Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91111 stationed in Anchorage conducted routine pyrotechnic training with two small boats Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. about a half a mile from the shoreline near the Port of Anchorage firing more than 12 flares.

During the training several 9-1-1 calls were made by local Anchorage residents reporting a possible distress situation to local emergency responders resulting in local fire department units responding to the calls.

After reviewing Coast Guard reporting procedures in Anchorage following the training exercise, it was determined that the required 24-hour notification prior to the exercise was not provided to the Coast Guard Sector Anchorage Command Center. MSST 91111 small boats did broadcast an advisory notice on VHF Channel 16 prior to conducting their training.

Under existing local Coast Guard procedures, first responders were not required to be notified for the pyrotechnic training held outside the Port of Anchorage. However, those procedures are being changed and notifications to local responders are being addressed and incorporated into the standard procedures concerning exercises of this nature.

“We will work with local emergency service providers to ensure unnecessary responses to training exercises do not happen again,” said Capt. Craig Lloyd, chief of response for the 17th Coast Guard District. “We will conduct a thorough review and alter Coast Guard notification procedures to improve our existing processes.”

Sector Anchorage was able to immediately confirm the event as a training exercise.

“The good Samaritans who report or help those in distress in Alaska are critical to the safety and well-being of Alaskan mariners,” said Lloyd complimenting those who had reported the flare sightings today.

MSST Anchorage is a 75-person anti-terrorism unit that operates under the command of the Deployable Operations Group located in Arlington, Va., and deploys to ports throughout the West Coast of the United States. MSSTs were created under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 in direct response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

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