Fleet Week, America’s Cup – Formula for fun, frenzy

Pacific Southwest Coast Guard NewsSan Francisco – This week’s confluence of major events in San Francisco Bay is a rare opportunity for boaters and citizens to explore and enjoy the area’s vibrant maritime culture, but it also holds the potential for accidents and conflicts that the Coast Guard and other emergency response agencies are working hard to avoid.  While some Bay area Coast Guard personnel will have time to enjoy the annual salute to our nation’s naval forces, most local crews will be on duty maintaining port security and keeping boaters and the public safe.

“We enjoy a robust and very diverse commercial and recreational maritime area,” said Capt. Cynthia Stowe, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco. “In order for everyone to have full access to the Bay, we must ensure all activities on the water are conducted safely and securely. This is especially important during major maritime events like Fleet Week with a parade of military vessels and air shows, and America’s Cup racing, all of which can draw a huge fleet of spectator vessels to vie for space with the normal flow of commercial vessel traffic. Informed boaters exercising safe practices will reduce the likelihood of accidents and add to overall safety.”

Although most on-water action will be Friday through Sunday with the parade of ships, air shows, and America’s Cup races, activity affecting area waterways also occur Wednesday with the arrival of visiting naval vessels and Thursday with Blue Angels air show rehearsals. The Coast Guard is working to get the word out to boaters, and shoreline spectators, to be extremely cautious especially in the vicinity of special safety and security zones.  Broadcast and published notices to mariners give details of the zones and other special regulations and restrictions.

Boaters are reminded to check their vessels and safety gear, dress warmly, plan ahead, and heed all warnings, directions, and restrictions established by the Coast Guard and other public safety agencies on the Bay and ashore.  Officials also stress that boating while intoxicated is both illegal and highly dangerous.

Coast Guard safety and security measures include:

— Coast Guard search and rescue boats and crews from Stations Golden Gate, San Francisco, and Vallejo are being augmented by crews from Stations Bodega Bay, Monterey and Rio Vista, Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe and Morro Bay, as well as boats from other state and local agencies, for safety and law enforcement patrols and emergency response.

— The Coast Guard Cutters Pike, Tern, Sockeye, Hawksbill, Edisto, and Barracuda will patrol the Bay to coordinate safety and security operations and respond to any emergencies.

— Coast Guard security teams, including explosives detection K-9s, will be deployed to check piers, docks, and other facilities for security threats.

— Safety and security zones will be in place and enforced by Coast Guard, partner agency, and event organizer boats to protect the parade of ships, all naval vessels moored in the area, and the air show “flight box” and America’s Cup race course areas in San Francisco Bay.  Click HERE for charts and information on Fleet Week and America’s Cup safety and security zones.

— Coast Guard helicopters will conduct port security and safety patrols throughout the Bay area.

— Commercial shipping, ferry boat, and other traffic will be closely monitored by the Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Service.

With more than 3,200 Coast Guard men and women serving at stations, ships, a major training center, and regional headquarters commands here, the service is the most visible branch of the military in the Bay area. Coast Guard units and personnel participating in Fleet Week activities include:

— The Coast Guard Cutter Sherman, homeported in San Diego, will participate in the parade of ships Saturday and will be open for public tours Friday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Monday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at San Francisco’s pier 80B.

— Senior Coast Guard leaders and search and rescue experts will participate in Fleet Week multi-agency humanitarian assistance and emergency response seminars and exercises.

— A Coast Guard search and rescue demonstration will be part of the Fleet Week air show at approximately 12:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon Sunday near the Municipal Pier at Aquatic Park.

— One hundred Coast Guard men and women from Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma will represent the service during the Italian Heritage Parade in San Francisco Sunday.

— Crewmembers from Coast Guard Base Alameda and other Bay area commands will participate in community service projects such as visits to veterans’ hospitals and a cleanup project at the San Francisco Zoo.

— Coast Guard teams will participate in inter-service softball competition and physical fitness challenges.

— A group of patients from the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital will join the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter George Cobb for a San Francisco Bay safety patrol Friday.

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