Coast Guard Conducts Southeast Alaska-Wide Maritime Security Exercise

JUNEAU, Alaska – Coast Guard Sector Juneau conducted a two-part area maritime security exercise Tuesday & Wednesday in order to test the capabilities of maritime industry and government to take quick and well-coordinated action in response to a security incident on Southeast Alaska waters.

The first day of the exercise involved a communications drill. The Coast Guard conveys the need to increase security measures on vessels and shore-side facilities by using a three-tiered Maritime Security (MARSEC) Level System that is similar to the five-tiered Homeland Security Advisory System. Level 1 indicates a baseline risk level calling for routine security. Level 2 indicates heightened risk. Level 3 indicates imminent risk.

The Coast Guard simulated raising the MARSEC level in Southeast Alaska from 1 to 2 in response to a fictional scenario in which a ferry reported a suspicious explosion on the car deck.

The Coast Guard quickly notified vessels and facilities of the change by phone. The vessels and facilities then increased their security levels, and Coast Guard personnel deployed throughout Southeast Alaska to verify that the additional security measures had been put in place.

On the second day of the exercise, representatives of maritime companies and a wide variety of local, state and federal government agencies gathered at the Juneau Emergency Operations Center to review the formal plans already in place for dealing with a maritime security incident in Southeast Alaska. The participants also discussed the role each would play in responding to the day’s particular suspicious ferry explosion scenario. Key players in the exercise included Supervisory Special Agent Mark Van Balen (Federal Bureau of Investigation), Lieutenant Todd Sharp (Alaska State Troopers), Mr. Mike Patterson (City and Borough of Juneau), Captain John Falvey (Alaska Marine Highway System), and Captain Mark Guillory (United States Coast Guard).

As a result of the meeting, representatives of each agency and company gained a deeper understanding of one another’s capabilities and resources. Coordinating law enforcement response was a particular focus. The meeting also afforded participants the opportunity to strengthen personal relationships, enhancing the ability of these individuals to work as a team during a real emergency.

Area maritime security exercises are an annual requirement mandated by the Marine Transportation Security Act of 2002.

United States Coast Guard Capt. Mark S. Guillory presents facts at a Maritime Security Exercise in Southeast Alaska. The exercise simulates a response of state, local and federal agencies in the event of a security incident on Southeast Alaska waters.

United States Coast Guard Capt. Mark S. Guillory presents facts at a Maritime Security Exercise in Southeast Alaska. The exercise simulates a response of state, local and federal agencies in the event of a security incident on Southeast Alaska waters.

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