Coast Guard to conduct area maritime security exercise in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard in cooperation with responders from more than 22 federal, state, local and industry agencies and organizations will be conducting, Operation Secure Port, an area maritime security functional exercise in San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday and Thursday.

The functional exercise is part of the nationwide Area Maritime Security Training and Exercise Program (AMSTEP), and is being conducted to test the effectiveness of the Area Maritime Security Plan and its guidance for addressing port-wide security incidents in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Operation Secure Port will bring emergency response agencies and industry responders together at the Puerto Rico Ports Authority Navy Frontier Pier in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency Emergency Operations Center in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to interface and test their ability to respond to a maritime transportation security threat in the area.

There is no cause for public alarm as this exercise will not provide for the actual deployment of operational assets in the area. Agencies will focus primarily on their ability to alert, mobilize and activate personnel, facilities and resources for an emergency response, test their communications, and establish an Incident Command and Unified Command structure to coordinate interagency response operations.

The Coast Guard recognizes that providing maritime security in the Caribbean region requires close coordination of area responders. The scenario involved in this functional exercise will challenge participants to make difficult decisions, carry out essential functions and maintain a common operating picture during a port security incident. Interagency coordination and communication will play key roles in the exercise’s success, as well as enhance readiness for future incidents.

Participating agencies and industry organizations will include the Coast Guard, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Transportation Security Administration, Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency, Puerto Rico Ports Authority, Puerto Rico Department of Homeland Security, Puerto Rico Center for Disease Control San Juan Station, Puerto Rican Shipping Agency, Puerto Rico Shipping Horizon Lines, Puerto Rico Eco EcoElectric, U.S. Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Virgin Islands Port Authority; C & C Port Services Inc. Director of Security St. John Resort and Villas and Royal Caribbean International.

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