Coast Guard facilitates explosives outload in Valdez Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Members of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Valdez, Station Valdez and a qualified explosives handling team supervisor from Marine Safety Detachment Ketchikan facilitated the transfer of ammunition to Alaska-based Department of Defense installations by conducting an explosive outload on November 4 at the Valdez Container Terminal.

The nature of the explosives was ammunition that had been shipped to Valdez via barge from Port Hadlock, Wash. It was loaded onto trucks that transported it to various DOD bases around the state of Alaska. Specifically, the team handled the transfer of 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4 explosives which range from mass explosion hazards to fire hazards according to the definitions in the Code of Federal Regulations 49 CFR 173.50.

In accordance with 33 CFR 126.29 the Captain of the Port is authorized to require that any transaction of handling, storing, stowing, loading, discharging, or transporting the dangerous cargo covered by this subchapter shall be undertaken and continued only under the immediate supervision and control of the Captain of the Port or his duly authorized representative.

“We oversee the ammunition loads to ensure they’re being conducted safely,” said Machinery Technician 2nd Class Angela Roman, Marine Safety Unit Valdez. “We also want to ensure compliance with the regulations concerning transportation of hazardous cargo in 49 CFR 100-185. The regulations I’ve mentioned are not, of course, all inclusive.”

MSU personnel were instrumental in the planning and supervision of the load. They ensured all administrative functions were undertaken correctly. The team made sure the load was properly packed, stowed and placarded among other things. Station Valdez provided a boarding team as well as water side security for the evolution.

The operation went very smoothly, without incident. Roman attributed that to effective planning, forethought and the fact that all involved have worked together on previous occasions.

“The obvious fact that we were dealing with explosives is a challenge and a hazard,” said Roman. “Add to that, November isn’t usually synonymous with calm, clear weather up here – bad weather can hamper the boarding team and hold up the off load. High winds are especially dangerous when using a crane.”

The Coast Guard is no stranger to explosives transfers and works on a regular basis around the state with DOD and industry partners to ensure all transfers are conducted correctly.

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