SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard, in cooperation with responders from 29 federal, state, local agencies and industry organizations, conducted an Area Maritime Security Exercise Tuesday in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The annual table-top exercise is part of the nationwide Area Maritime Security Training Exercise Program (AMSTEP).
“The difficult scenarios we grappled with today led to candid discussions which helped us build relationships and unify our collective response plans for a major security incident in the port,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Vega, Chief of Contingency Planning and Force Readiness for 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 Puerto Rico.
“This exercise allowed us to work as a team,” said Hernan F. Ayala Rubio, Chairman AMSC Executive Committee & President, Puerto Rico Shipping Association. “It served as an excellent tool to improve the relations and communications between the federal, state and municipal agencies and improve collaboration with industry.”
During the exercise, emergency response agencies and industry representatives came together at the Federal Emergency Management Agency Distribution Center in San Juan to interface and critically evaluate their ability to respond to a maritime transportation security threat in the area.
Agencies focused primarily on their ability to alert, mobilize and coordinate personnel, facilities and resources for an emergency response and establish an Incident Command and 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, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations; Immigrations and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, Transportation Security Administration, American Red Cross, Puerto Rico Shipping Association, National Guard 22nd Civil Support Team, Puerto Rico North Coast Harbor Safety and Security Committees, Puerto Rico Fusion Center, Office of the Governor of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Ports Authority, Puerto Rico Police Department and Joint Forces of Rapid Action, Puerto Rico Fire Department, Puerto Rico State Emergency and Disaster Management Agency, Puerto Rico Department of Family, Puerto Rico Department of Housing, Puerto Rico Department of Health, Puerto Rico Department of State, Public Service Commission, Puerto Rico Tourism Company, San Juan Office of Emergency Management, Luis Ayala Colon Sucrs. Inc., Continental Shipping, Inc., McRoberts Security Company, National Protection and Programs Directorate; St. James Security.