Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Forces, New York Air National Guard conduct Search and Rescue Exercise

A Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod helicopter crew works with a Coast Guard Cutter Seneca crew to conduct hoists during Operation Orange Flag in Rhode Island Sound April 1, 2015. Crews from the Coast Guard, Air National Guard, and Canadian Forces worked together to better understand each other's capabilities for Operation Orange Flag. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jimmy Clay)

A Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod helicopter crew works with a Coast Guard Cutter Seneca crew to conduct hoists during Operation Orange Flag in Rhode Island Sound April 1, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jimmy Clay)

BOSTON — U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod held Operation Orange Flag, an international and interagency search and rescue exercise, in Rhode Island Sound, March 31 through April 2, to showcase the capabilities of the participating services.

The U.S. Coast Guard hosted the first search and rescue exercise between the Royal Canadian Forces and New York Air National Guard with the goal to train for a maritime rescue operation in the Northeast.

Participants included crews from:

  • U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod: HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft/HT-60 Jayhawk helicopter
  • U.S. Coast Guard Cutters: 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutter Seneca and 87-foot patrol boat Tiger Shark
  • U.S. Coast Guard small boats from stations Castle Hill and Point Judith
  • Canadian Defense Force 413th Rescue Squadron: C-130 and CH-149
  • NY ANG 101st Rescue Squadron: 2 HH-60
  • NY ANG 102nd Rescue Squadron: 1 C-130 based out of Gabreski Airport.
  • NY ANG 103rd Rescue Squadron: 3 Zodiacs and 15 Combat Rescue Officers

Orange Flag spanned three days with the first focusing on command and control operations, learning the capabilities of the other agencies, and safety briefings. The following days consisted of Coast Guard aircraft drops of Air National Guard parajumpers (Guardian Angels), Canadian aircraft drops of search and rescue technicians, and the recovery of personnel by Coast Guard small boats to the cutters. Coast Guard and Canadian Forces helicopter crews practiced hoisting rescue swimmers and other personnel to cutters, patrol boats, and cutter small boats.

The final day included a mass rescue operation simulation. A Coast Guard HC-144 dropped an aviation search and rescue kit followed by five Guardian Angels. The recovery of personnel in the water simulated what would happen if an airplane went down or crew members from a boat were in the water and needed rescue.

“This exercise successfully demonstrated our interoperability,” said Cmdr. Jason Brennell, commanding officer, Coast Guard Cutter Seneca. “Having witnessed and participated, I am extremely confident in our collective ability to respond to and manage a large scale maritime rescue.”

The 413 Transport & Rescue Squadron is based out of Greenwood, Canada. The New York Air National Guard (NY ANG) Rescue Squadrons 101, 102, and 103 are based out of Westhampton, New York.

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