Long Island Sound Law Enforcement Surge Aims to Promote Safe Boating

NEW HAVEN, CONN.–Multiple first-response agencies completed their first summer weekend surge operation in an ongoing effort to educate the boating public and enforce recreational boating safety laws as part of Operation Sector Aggressive Vessel Enforcement Sunday, May 18, 2008.

The Coast Guard worked with more than 20 federal, state, county and local maritime agencies as part of OPSAVE. The multi-agency task force inspected safety equipment and registration documents on board 252 vessels, issued 38 violations and terminated eight voyages during the surge operation May 16 through 18.

“The goal of OPSAVE is to aggressively educate boaters to exercise safe seamanship and observe the boating laws in an effort to reduce loss of life and property damage,” said Cmdr. Robert McKenna, Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound chief of response operations, “as well as to reduce the number of search and rescue missions required of the agencies each summer.”

The surge operations will take place several weekends throughout the summer. Law enforcement personnel will be looking for proper registration documents and inspecting mandatory safety equipment, such as personal flotation devices (PFD), fire extinguishers and up to date flares during boardings. Boarding teams will be looking for life jackets that are in good condition and that there is at least one for each person on board a vessel, including child-size PFDs on vessels with young passengers.

“In addition, there are a lot of things that may not be required on a smaller vessel, but that are prudent,” said Ensign John LaMorte, Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound assistant chief of the incident management division. “While we will be inspecting mandatory equipment, we will also be informing boaters of other important items that could save their life in an emergency, such as charts, radios and GPS receivers, to name a few.”

The OPSAVE task force was originally developed in Suffolk County, N.Y., in 2003 to reverse an upward trend of boating-related fatalities and boating-while-intoxicated violations.

“Our goal is to keep boaters safe by preventing incidents and by making sure that if there is a mishap, boaters stand the best chance of surviving an incident uninjured,” said LaMorte.

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