Coast Guard reopens ports in wake of tsunami

USCG File Photo

GUAM – U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam rescue crews worked through the night Friday and into the morning Saturday to close, assess, and reopen the ports of Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Rota after devastating earthquake in Japan, Friday.

Crews verified the waterways were safe for use and reopened all major ports for boating traffic within two-and-a-half hours of sunrise Saturday.

Damage assessments were conducted inside Apra Harbor after two U.S. Navy submarines were detached from their mooring lines overnight.

“The port closure and survey by Coast Guard Sector Guam are normal procedure when faced with severe weather or major events affecting the port, said Captain Thomas M. Sparks, Commander, Sector Guam. “It’s fundamental to preserving the viability and safety of the port. We conducted the night and dawn patrols in Guam and the CNMI to assess the situation and get the ports up and running as quickly as possible,” he said. “I’m pleased with the cooperation of all agencies here in the Marianas, and we feel for the victims in Japan.”

The Coast Guard response in Guam was spurred by a tsunami warning forecast to hit Guam at about 7:09 p.m. Friday, on its way eastward through the Pacific Ocean. The tsunami caused minor fluctuations in sea levels in Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands after its forecast landfall, just hours after a major earthquake off the coast of Japan on Friday.

Upon notification of the tsunami watch, Coast Guard Sector Guam immediately evacuated all personnel to high ground and all Coast Guard cutters out to sea to be ready to respond to marine emergencies and assist in reopening the port. The cutters returned to port Saturday, performing a survey of Apra Harbor prior to docking.

The Coast Guard is focused on safety and security of the nation’s waterways. The public is asked to use precaution when boating and report all marine emergencies to the Coast Guard Sector Guam Command Center on VHF-FM channel 16 or by phone at 671-564-8724.

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