SAINT THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — The Coast Guard, in cooperation with responders from 21 federal, state, local agencies and industry organizations, conducted an Area Maritime Security Exercise Thursday in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The annual table-top exercise is part of the nationwide Area Maritime Security Training Exercise Program (AMSTEP).
“Exercising our Area Maritime Security Plan regularly is instrumental for federal and local agencies as well as our industry partners to deliver a well coordinated and unified response during a major maritime security incident in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Capt. Michael Zamperini, Deputy Commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan.
This exercise is being conducted to test the effectiveness of the Area Maritime Security Plan drafted by federal, state and local agencies and industry representatives as the framework for how to respond to port-wide security incidents in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“These meetings are critical because we are gathering the stakeholders who are directly responsible for the safety and security of our citizens,” said Mona Barnes, Director of the Virgin Islands Territorial Management Agency. “Having people meet and put names to faces improves our ability to respond, collaborate and coordinate our joint response effort for any future incident.”
Exercise participants gathered at the Virgin Islands Port Authority Administrative Building to interface and evaluate their ability to respond to a maritime transportation security threat in the area. Agencies focused primarily on their processes to alert, mobilize and coordinate personnel, facilities and resources, which included establishing a Unified Command structure to coordinate interagency response operations.
The Coast Guard recognizes that providing maritime security in the Caribbean region requires the close coordination of area responders. The scenario involved in this table-top exercise challenged participants to identify key resources and organize interagency procedures during a port security incident, and update response plan information that will enhance future readiness coordination.
Participating agencies and industry organizations included Coast Guard Sector San Juan, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment St. Thomas, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations; Transportation Security Administration, Drug Enforcement Administration, National Park Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, American Red Cross, Virgin Islands Office of the Governor, Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, Virgin Islands Ports Authority, Virgin Islands Fusion Center, Emergency Medical Services, C&C Port Services, Virgin Islands Police Department, Virgin Islands Fire Service, West Indian Company Limited, Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority, Virgin Islands National Guard, Virgin Islands Tourism Board.