Coast Guard and local agencies work together as Holidays approach to keep our ports safe and secure

East Providence, R. I. — During the months of September through May, receiving deliveries of Liquefied Petroleum Gas is a necessity in the New England area.

Recently, the tank ship ALRAR, a 672-foot long Liberian flagged vessel arrived with a shipment of LPG for the Providence area.

While many of us were rushing to get our holiday shopping done or avoiding getting caught in the recent blizzard, Coast Guard personnel were protecting the port. Crewmembers would be getting ready as early as 3 a.m. on the day the LPG carrying vessel arrived and they would work past dusk before being relieved by other crewmembers.

The entire evolution, from getting underway to boarding teams on the LPG vessel and escorting it until the discharge of cargo was complete and the vessel departed port took over fifty hours. This operation is not done by the Coast Guard alone, but requires the joint efforts of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the Rhode Island State Police, the East Providence Police, the Providence Police, Rhode Island Bureau of Investigations, Rhode Island Airport Corporation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the North East Marine Pilots, as well as the Coast Guard Cutter Tiger Shark, Coast Guard Station Castle Hill and Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England.

As the holidays approached, the combined effort of these various agencies and units allowed for the safe and secure arrival and departure of the large LPG carrying ship.

Protecting the safety of the community as well as the environment is the primary job of all involved. This begins when the Coast Guard receives notification of a delivery, usually 96 hours prior to arrival. Prior to the vessel being allowed to approach the port, it goes through a comprehensive pre-boarding screening process by both the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection to assess any potential safety or security risks.

After this initial screening, Coast Guard security boarding teams and safety inspection teams then board these type of vessels at sea, prior to authorizing port entry, to further ensure the ship meets our security and safety requirements. As the LPG carrying vessel arrives, a security zone is enforced using fully armed vessels around the ship during the transit and while it is moored.

“Mariners are urged to be aware of these security zones and avoid transiting near or around them” said Senior Chief Gary Chalker, a member of Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England’s enforcement division.

The security zones are put in place under the authority of the Coast Guard Captain of the Port, who is Captain Raymond J. Perry, Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England.

Perry said the zones are exclusionary. He has given his boat crews the authorization to manage these zones with some flexibility from on-scene so as to ensure the LPG ship is protected, while at the same time minimizing any impact on other waterway users.

During the actual transfer of LPG, team members on board the vessel and in the Coast Guard’s East Providence Command Center monitored the transfer closely so that if anything was to go wrong, it would be immediately identified and corrected.

“The teams never complain”, said Captain Perry, “they are always professional and well trained to deal with threats in the maritime domain. They also recognize that although their work is difficult and at times dangerous, it is part of a larger effort, an effort that has placed many of their peers from all the services overseas serving in combat zones. Global events put what we do in perspective, making us all a little more humble and grateful that we may serve in the capacity that we are, and grateful that because of these efforts our families may enjoy the holidays.”

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