Navy, Coast Guard join forces to prepare for hurricane season

HONOLULU β€” Navy Region Hawaii and Coast Guard Sector Honolulu signed a memorandum of understanding that ensures the safety of commercial vessels that would be instrumental to sustaining public health and safety for the citizens of Hawaii, May 31.

This MOU specifically permits pre-identified commercial vessels essential for reconstituting Honolulu Harbor to seek safe anchorage in Pearl Harbor during pre-hurricane situations.

“Safeguarding shipping, protecting commerce and saving lives in an emergency are among our core competencies. I am pleased to sign this important memorandum of understanding,” Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander of Navy Region Hawaii said. “It will help us protect critical maritime resources and assist in port reconstitution efforts for Honolulu Harbor when the time comes.”

β€œIn the event that a hurricane renders the port facilities in Honolulu Harbor inoperable, specialized commercial vessels would need to be mobilized to begin the reconstitution efforts to restore Honolulu Harbor,” Capt. Joanna Nunan, commander of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu said.

The Navy and Coast Guard recognize the vital lifeline that the Port of Honolulu and the commercial shipping industry are to the citizens of the State of Hawaii. The MOU has been in the works for approximately two years.

Eighty percent of all goods and 100 percent of fuel are brought to Oahu at Honolulu Harbor and distributed throughout Hawaii and other Pacific Islands. The closure of this port due to man-made or natural disaster would have dire consequences for the entire State of Hawaii and other neighboring regions.

To better prepare for a hurricane situation, the Navy, Coast Guard and Hawaii State Civil Defense directed the Makani Pahili Port Continuity exercise June 4-5. Local agencies and commercial enterprises reviewed and evaluated contingency plans that address reconstituting Honolulu Harbor in the in the event of a major disaster.

“It’s a question of when, not if, a hurricane will impact Hawaii and cause damage and disruption,” Ponds said. “We must be ready to respond in times of crisis, whenever and however we can.”

This whole of government approach with private industry participation will ensure the State of Hawaii is well prepared for hurricane season.

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