Maritime anti-terrorism full-scale exercise, security training set for Port of Duluth-Superior

9th Coast Guard District NewsDULUTH, Minn. — A multi-agency, full-scale exercise and maritime security training and exercise program called Operation Down Under is scheduled to take place Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, in the Port of Duluth-Superior.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Duluth, in coordination with the transportation industry, the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, local law enforcement, fire and emergency management agencies will conduct a full-scale underwater terrorism response exercise at various pre-designated sites within the Duluth-Superior area.

The exercise scenario is not based on any specific credible threat to the Port of Duluth-Superior. The Coast Guard and its state and local area partners conduct emergency preparedness and response exercises every year as part of established strategies to build response capabilities and improve readiness levels for first responders.

Planning, training and exercising are important components of the nation’s homeland security strategy. The 2011 Operation Down Under full-scale exercise is a part of the Area Maritime Security Training and Exercise Program and the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program. The goal of the exercise is to validate current processes in the Western Lake Superior Area Maritime Security Plan and the Underwater Terrorism Preparedness Plan.

Individuals may see Coast Guard assets carrying mounted automatic weapons during the course of the exercise. In a place as strategically important as the Port of Duluth-Superior – critical to the economic vitality of not just Minnesota but the entire Great Lakes – armed waterborne patrols are a key part of the Coast Guard’s ability to defend others and itself in response to maritime security threats. The Coast Guard routinely carries mounted automatic weapons when and where appropriate as part of its mission to detect, deter, and disrupt maritime threats to the people and infrastructure of our Great Lakes. This is not a live-fire training exercise. The Coast Guard does not conduct any live-fire training on the Great Lakes. It trains its crews in the use of these weapons at a Department of Defense facility outside of the Great Lakes region.

Activities scheduled throughout the Duluth-Superior area include: marine dive operations and other under-water technologies; as well as water patrols throughout the day.

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