Coast Guardsmen converge in Hawaii for heavy weather training

Hawaii-Pacific Coast Guard News
HONOLULU – Two weeks of intensive heavy weather search and rescue training will complete Friday, after personnel from throughout the Pacific gathered at Coast Guard Station Honolulu for a series of unique skill enhancement evolutions.

Instructors from the Coast Guard National Motor Lifeboat School, in Ilwaco, Wash., chose Hawaii for the consistently challenging offshore sea conditions as well as Station Honolulu’s access to two of the Coast Guard’s state of the art 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, a new and advanced search and rescue vessel. National Motor Lifeboat School instructors are in the process of developing training on the Response Boat-Medium, and having the two vessels at Station Honolulu at such a short distance to effective offshore sea conditions made an ideal location.

“We have people from several different units that we brought together here because they have two of the Response Boat-Medium that we are training on at Station Honolulu, with weather conditions where we can get out into open ocean swell,” said Petty Officer Ryan Widdows, a first class boatswains mate from the National Motor Lifeboat School.

Classroom training was followed by extensive towing and gear passing practice approximately two miles offshore of Diamond Head, Oahu. Sea conditions here allowed for practice approaching the vessel’s maximum operating parameters of 12 foot sea swells, in winds as high as 40mph.

The Response Boat-Medium boasts an improved design, new ergonomics, and enhanced safety features, making boat crews more effective in performing their multiple missions. Twin diesel engines with water-jet propulsion create a safer platform to retrieve people from the water and protect the engine from debris. It is part of the Coast Guard’s plan to standardize and revitalize its shore-based boat fleet.

Coast Guard Station Honolulu received its first response boat-medium on June 14, 2010. The Coast Guard’s 14th District, headquartered in Honolulu, also utilizes the asset at stations Maui and Guam in support of their roles in the Coast Guard’s 11 Statutory Missions.

The National Motor Lifeboat School was established in 1968 at Station Cape Disappointment, at the mouth of the Columbia River. It is the only school for rough weather surf rescue operations in the country. The Columbia River bar, known as the ‘Graveyard of the Pacific,’ provides an ideal rough weather training environment with its deep river channel, rock jetties, coastal surf zones and waves that can often exceed 20 feet.

HONOLULU - Coast Guard coxswains conduct intensive heavy weather training offshore of Diamond Head, Oahu.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric J. Chandler.

Coast Guard coxswains conduct intensive heavy weather training offshore of Diamond Head, Oahu. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric J. Chandler.

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