Coast Guard and Virginia Port Authority host 6th annual search and rescue forum

5th Coast Guard District NewsPORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard, the Virginia Port Authority, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, state and local law enforcement agencies as well as first responders are participating in a 5-day long forum, which began Monday, and includes marine search and rescue training, exercises and classroom discussion at the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina in Hampton.

“The purpose of this forum is to improve interagency cooperation, increase search effectiveness, enhance crew safety and coordination and foster a better understanding among marine first responders,” said Lt. Jack Smith of the Sector Hampton Roads incident management division.

Highlights from the week include small boat handling, side-scan sonar operations, towing safety, marine firefighting training, and nighttime search and rescue training.

All exercises take place between the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel and the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

Agencies and organizations attending the forum include: Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads, Virginia Port Authority, Coast Guard Station Little Creek, Coast Guard Station Portsmouth, Coast Guard Station Milford Haven, Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries, fire and police departments from Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Newport News, James City County, Smithfield, Hampton, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Poquoson, Fort Eustis, York County, Prince George County, and Prince William County, Maryland.

“Rapid response and interagency coordination are keys to success while conducting search and rescue missions,” said Smith. “This week’s forum is a significant step in our continued and shared responsibility to protect the public.”

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