Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi provides tour for partner countries

Coast Guard District 8 NewsCORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coast Guard welcomed 11 international students to discuss search and rescue procedures at Sector Corpus Christi, Wednesday.

Students and instructors from the International Search and Rescue School in San Antonio, Texas, arrived at Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi Wednesday morning. The students are military members of their home countries of Peru, El Salvador, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, and Panama.

After meeting with Capt. Kathleen Moore, deputy sector commander at Sector Corpus Christi, they were given a tour of the sector command center.

Lt. Bryan Cantfil, command center supervisor for Sector Corpus Christi, discussed the roles and responsibilities of each watchstander.

“A VHF-Marine Band radio is the preferred tool for distress communications, though people often call on cell phones which can be unreliable or near the edge of reception. The command center is staffed around the clock with three members who are responsible to initiate all search cases from the Colorado River down to the U.S./Mexico border,” said Cantfil. “Sometimes, we have very little information and the watchstanders act like detectives, piecing together a puzzle, trying to find someone.”

After learning about the planning and strategy behind search and rescue, the students had an opportunity to tour two of the Coast Guard’s aircraft. The MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, which is used for quick rescues of people off shore. Using the helicopter hoist system, the helicopter can pick up multiple survivors and bring them to safety. The HU-25 Falcon, a high speed, medium range search and rescue platform, is used for locating missing people. They can also deliver tools such as a dewatering pump, a life raft, or other survival gear to assist the mariners until a helicopter or Coast Guard boat arrives on scene.

“I am proud of the response capability we provide,” said Lt. Michael Martin, a Falcon pilot with Air Station Corpus Christi. “It is an honor to meet with these dedicated first responders from our partner countries.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Sage, am aviation survival technician with Air Station Corpus Christi, provided an overview of the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers.

“The swimmer can be lowered to a vessel on the helicopter’s hoist, or jump into the water while the helicopter hovers about 15 feet above the water,” stated Sage. “They can also provide basic first aid to a survivor while flying to a hospital”.

“In some cases, time is so critical that the helicopter picks up a survivor but leaves us in the water,” said Sage. “We are prepared to survive at least 24 hours before another Coast Guard unit retrieves us.”

Sector Corpus Christi is responsible for more than 250 miles of coast line, has three small boat stations, three aids to navigation teams, four patrol boats, a river tender, and one Air Station. Sector Corpus Christi performs all Coast Guard missions, except ice-breaking.

Personnel annually conduct about 450 search and rescue cases, assist 591 people in distress, save 83 lives and $3 million in property, seize over 5,500 lbs of drugs and 22 small craft conducting smuggling and illegal fishing, interdict and detain over 130 illegal immigrants, maintain 1,300 aids to navigation, manage the safe arrival of 3,200 commercial vessels, conduct 900 facility visits, investigate 230 marine related incidents, and perform 490 vessel inspections.

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