Coast Guard Air Station Houston adds an additional layer to port security

HOUSTON – Coast Guard Air Station Houston participated in a combined helicopter-patrol vessel training, Wednesday, April 22, 2009, in the vicinity of Sylvan Beach. The purpose of the training is to allow helicopter crews to practice hostile-boat intercept maneuvers. No live ammunition was used in the inland coastal waterways.

Air Station Houston’s helicopters have been outfitted with mounts and other equipment needed for new weapons. Additional crewmembers have been added and join the Coast Guard’s existing fleet of armed boats, cutters and maritime security boarding teams equipped to stop maritime threats. Armed helicopters are another level of protection, which can be utilized to save lives and protect coastal assets.

Coast Guard aircrews conducting this mission are hand-selected, highly trained individuals specifically chosen in part because of maturity, judgment and sound decision-making skills. Extensive training of pilots and crewmembers has been conducted at land-based ranges and offshore training areas.

The new armed helicopter capability is intended to be used in conjunction with armed vessels and personnel for stopping clear-and-present threats to targets such as cruise ships, naval vessels, and bridges in the waters of Texas and Louisiana.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Coast Guard’s role in Homeland Security has grown. The Coast Guard is both a federal law enforcement agency and a military service and has the authority and capability to employ armed boarding officers and armed boats, ships, and helicopters for law enforcement and security missions.

This training module is scheduled to conclude in the next several weeks. Future training will be conducted periodically to maintain proficiency.

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