PATCOM: Tip of the spear for maritime security during inauguration

A blast of cold air from the Potomac River rips through the line of tents causing their fabric to flutter and people to pull the collars of their coats a little higher. The buzz of aircraft temporarily drown out all noise and Coast Guard boats can be seen patrolling the waterways. These elements are just part of the job for the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard as they take on the mission of waterway security during the 56th Presidential Inauguration.

During the inauguration, the Coast Guard has been tasked with the critical responsibility of maintaining a maritime security zone in the Washington, D.C., area consisting of waterway restrictions and closures on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and to be aware of, deter, detect, intercept and respond to threats or acts of aggression and attacks by terrorists.

Due to the historical significance of this inauguration, and the large number of people expected to attend, the Coast Guard has increased its presence on the water to ensure protection of the people and Washington’s critical infrastructure.

With an event as large as the inauguration, security is coordinated on many different levels.

The tip of the spear for the nation’s maritime security during the inauguration is the position of the Patrol Commander (PATCOM) currently being held by Lt. Cmdr. Lynda C. LeCrone, the commanding officer (CO) of Coast Guard Station Washington, D.C. As the PATCOM, she provides a vital communication link between the security vessels on the water and the tactical commander.

Having been the CO of Station Washington, D.C. for the past two and a half years, LeCrone has keen knowledge of the area, experience directing boat operations and superb partnerships with local, state and federal agencies.

“As the station CO, I am best positioned for PATCOM due to my familiarity with the area and knowledge of boat tactics, techniques and procedures,” said LeCrone. “My tasking is to have operational control of the assets on the water that are enforcing the security zone.”

With many Coast Guard assets on the water, careful planning was needed to ensure successful execution of the security task at hand.

“Numerous hours were spent planning for this large-scale security event that covers approximately 12 nautical miles,” said LeCrone. “Planning the interoperability of our available forces was needed as well as determining the appropriate number of security teams to cover the security zone.”

Throughout the inauguration, the Coast Guard will be patrolling the waterways within the security zone to ensure the safety and security of the citizens and critical infrastructure.  “Our job is to prevent any security incidents that would close the waterways and impede recreational and commercial traffic beyond the normal constraints of our operational obligations,” said LeCrone.

Aside from ensuring waterway security, LeCrone is also responsible for ensuring proper tactics are used in the event of a security incident. If any use of force is required, LeCrone would also ensure the security assets follow proper procedure.

The Coast Guard is working with the Secret Service as well as numerous other federal, state and local partners to coordinate a joint response throughout the inauguration.

“Working together helps us provide better security,” said LeCrone.

As the sun sets over Washington following the inaugural events, the NCR will once again return to business as usual on the Potomac River. LeCrone and the members of Coast Guard Station Washington, D.C., will be relieved from their duties and responsibilities associated with PATCOM, and once again focus on their missions of search and rescue, Homeland Security and law enforcement, standing ever ready to support the nation’s need for maritime security.

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