Coast Guard, State of Hawaii joint operation ensures public safety

HONOLULU — Inspectors with several federal and State of Hawaii agencies joined forces the past three days to enforce hazardous materials shipping requirements and standards in several key Hawaii ports.

The U.S. Coast Guard helped organized the 2008 Multi Agency Strike Force Operation(MASFO 2008) on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island, Nov. 12-14. The MASFO focused attention on the enforcement of hazardous materials shipping requirements and shipping container material condition safety standards.

The operation also helped foster partner agency interoperability, while improving overall safety throughout Hawaii’s ports and waterways.

“I really enjoyed working with the other agencies, and I think I learned a lot about how the other agencies inspect containers and what they’re looking for in container yards and on the trucks they’re put on,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Samantha Stone, a container inspector assigned to the Coast Guard’s Sand Island base. “I think I took back some really good experience, and I’m looking forward to the next exercise.”

Inspectors from the federal and state Departments of Transportation, Customs and Border Protection, National Cargo Bureau, State of Hawaii Public Safety and Agriculture Departments, and several Coast Guard units joined forces to work with shipping companies and facilities.

Inspectors from the Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety and Security Team Honolulu, Marine Safety Teams Maui and Hawaii and from Sector Honolulu participated in the MASFO.

Oahu teams inspected 106 hazardous and general cargo containers in Honolulu Harbor and found just eight separate deficiencies. Maui teams inspected nine containers in Kahului Harbor and identified two small deficiencies while Big Island teams inspected 23 containers in Kawaihae and Hilo, identifying and correcting two separate deficiencies.

“I am really impressed with the level of cooperation we received during this operation,” said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Dustin Widman, a container inspector also based at Sand Island. “Having five different agencies inspect one container at the same time adds a tremendous amount of proficiency to each of those inspections.”

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