Coast Guard begins overflight, port assessments around Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands after Irma

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard, has begun conducting overflight and port assessments of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday.

Capt. Eric King, commander of Sector San Juan and the incident commander, directed Coast Guard crews to conduct search and rescue flights to assist anyone potentially in distress post Irma, as well as conducting overflight and surface port assessments.

“Our first priority is ensuring safety of lives and helping anyone in distress. Following that, reopening the ports is a top priority, but we have to make sure we also do it safely,” said King. “Opening the port prematurely could create a situation for a greater risk or incident, which could ultimately result in an even longer port closure. We must ensure the port is clear of any obstructions and any significant damage to the port infrastructure from the storm that would prevent the flow of commercial commerce.”

The Coast Guard is coordinating with port partners to keep them apprised of the storm’s impacts and port condition changes.

“One of the top priorities, second only to life saving operations, is working with partner agencies to conduct port and waterway assessments to determine the impacts to the maritime transportation system,” said King.

Coast Guard assets conducting overflight and port assessments are as follows:

  • Two Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews
  • Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team San Juan 55-foot Aids to Navigation Boat crew

For information on Hurricane Irma’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center‘s webpage.

For imagery and video of the Hurricane Irma response, please visit our Flicker page.

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