Coast Guard, Virginia Port Authority host 10th Annual Search and Rescue Forum in Hampton, VA

An HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from U. S. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, conducts a demonstration as part of the 2016 Search and Rescue Forum in Hampton, Virginia, Thursday, March 3.  The event was sponsored by the Port of Virginia and U. S. Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads.   (U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Auxiliarist Trey Clifton)

An HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from U. S. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City conducts a demonstration Thursday, March 3.   (U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Auxiliarist Trey Clifton)

HAMPTON, Va. – The 10th Annual Search and Rescue Forum was held Monday through Friday at the Downtown City of Hampton Marina located at the Crown Plaza.

The forum brought together state and local public safety agencies and first responders and their vessels for five days of instruction, which included marine search and rescue training, radar and sonar operations, classroom discussion and daytime and nighttime exercises.

The goal of the forum was to increase interagency cooperation and search effectiveness along with raising crew safety. This year, 22 vessels and 104 students registered for the forum from around the Hampton Roads area.

“A strong interagency approach is required to meet the challenges ahead,” said Capt. Rick Wester, deputy sector commander for Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads. “Because of these challenges, the forum was designed to collaborate with a diverse base of personnel, platforms and equipment to complete a variety of missions.”

The week-long forum included several exercises during the week with a night time navigation drill and search and rescue drill on Wednesday and Thursday night. Other exercises included towing operations, side scan sonar operations, maritime firefighting and small boat handling. All exercises took place between the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel and the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

“Following the completion of the Search and Rescue Forum, first responders in the Port of Virginia and the surrounding region are better prepared to collaboratively conduct search and rescue, pollution response and law enforcement operations,” said Rear Adm. Stephen P. Metruck, commander of the Coast Guard’s Fifth District.

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