Coast Guard, Honolulu City and County to hold response exercise off Oahu

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Police Department, and Oahu Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services are scheduled to conduct a search and rescue exercise in the vicinity offshore from Ko’olina to Kahe Point Wednesday and Thursday.

”The purpose is to continue building and improving operational cohesion between other agencies and us,” said Ensign Seth Gross, a Coast Guard Sector Honolulu search and rescue coordinator. “We hold these exercises semi-annually, and they revolve throughout the islands. The west side of the island is known to be more remote with dynamic currents, but increasingly draws visitors and locals alike. It has also been the site of an aircraft incident in recent years.”

Day one of the exercise, members from Coast Guard Sector Honolulu will meet with Honolulu officials to discuss safety, communication and demonstrate assets to understand each other’s capabilities. The following day a multi-agency search and rescue exercise will be conducted for a simulated lost person in the water. The Coast Guard will issue a Broadcast Notice to Mariners regarding the activity at 7 a.m. Thursday and run it for the duration of operations.

The exercise will take place on the water and in the air off Kahe Point with Coast Guard and local agencies working together to test and evaluate interagency communications, response plans, and responders’ actions during a simulated exercise of a missing mariner. Operations will run from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Access may be limited to the public boat ramp in Kahe Point Beach Park where the Incident Command Post is stood up during this time. During the search and rescue exercise, multiple agencies’ assets will be launched, including the use of an Oscar dummy in the water. Oscar is weighted and used to simulate a person in the water. The public is asked not to disturb Oscar if found.

Assets are expected to include:

  • The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) and crew
  • An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium and crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu
  • Boat and aircrews from the Coast Guard Auxiliary
  • Honolulu Fire helicopter, boat, and fire crews
  • Honolulu Police Department personnel and dispatchers
  • A Jet Ski operator from Oahu Ocean Safety

The SAREX is being conducted to evaluate notification and response procedures between first responders and to identify shortfalls in communication and coordination of response during SAR incidents. Each agency holds individual capabilities that complement each other’s efforts and bolsters the overall success of the SAR system.

Although people are requested to stay clear of any boating area involved in the exercise, designated by the presence of Oscar, boats and other assets, the general public should remain vigilant and call 911 to report any possible distress situations. Coast Guard duty personnel will not be affected by the exercise, and will and be available to respond to any ongoing and emergency search and rescue cases.

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