Coast Guard stands watch during State of Union address

Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team members patrol the waters of the Potomac River in support of the State of the Union address response Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. Maritime Safety and Security Team members from Georgia and Massachusetts deployed to Washington to provide shoreside and maritime protection with one major objective – to guard against an attack. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando)

Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team members patrol the waters of the Potomac River in support of the State of the Union address . (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando)

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando

As President Barack Obama spoke to the nation Tuesday during his State of the Union address, Coast Guardsmen joined state and federal agencies to stand the watch, protecting the nation’s capital.

Maritime Safety and Security Team members from Georgia and Massachusetts deployed to Washington to provide shoreside and maritime protection with one major objective – to guard against an attack.

People forget about the maritime domain when considering security in the National Capital Region, said to Lt. j.g. Antoine Adams, the deployable team leader for the MSST mission. Adams is stationed at MSST Kings Bay, Georgia, the designated lead MSST for the State of the Union operation.

“We [had] a group here from Kings Bay and a group from Boston, two geographically different areas, but we’re able to seamlessly integrate and work together,” Adams added.

Waterways wind around the nation’s capital, Adams noted, and the MSST’s mission was to deter an attack in their area of responsibility.

The MSST’s mission went far beyond waterway patrols and maritime protection, said Chief Petty Officer Wade Ross, a boatswain’s mate with MSST Kings Bay. The MSST for the State of the Union included force protection members tasked with shoreside security and a canine team.

“I think people would be surprised that the Coast Guard is on land,” Ross said. “We’re a maritime entity, but that doesn’t stop at the shoreline.”

MSSTs are composed of active duty members who are trained, and can deploy within 24 hours. They are assigned missions as needed by the Coast Guard, and the units are self-contained, Ross added.

“In these types of operations, you have seconds to respond, with force if necessary,” Ross said.

The mission to protect the nation’s capital during the State of the Union address included partnerships with state, local and federal authorities.

The operation carried great significance, Ross said. The MSST members were proud to be in the nation’s capital to serve and protect the citizens during an event of national importance, Ross added.

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