product line and it’s amazing how they kept those
boats running even when it was pretty challenging in
terms of operating environment.”
That same sort of contingency planning and focus
on cooperation holds true with local authorities, port
officials, industry and international partners that the
First District can rely on — and vice versa — for situ-
ations involving port security, maritime safety and
environmental protection, as well as search and rescue.
“Search and rescue is an entire network of different
entities working together. We’ve got a good balance
right now, in my opinion, but it really goes beyond
that,” Popiel said. “At all of the major ports, we have a
maritime security committee and that is for national
security issues. We also have an area committee, which
is all other hazards — hurricanes, oil spills, fire, you
name it. We’ve got these committees for any business
— we call them port stakeholders — any companies
that work and operate ships or operate facilities on the
water. We have other federal agencies, state agencies,
local agencies all working together and we’ve come up
with a contingency plan.
“If we have this scenario, how are we going to do it?
If we’ve got an oil spill, in what areas are we going to
boom off? How are we going to use dispersants? A lot
of those types of questions. You get everybody together. Are all these plans still accurate? Yes. Then you
move forward. We have that and
exercise programs. We not only
make the plan, but we exercise the
plan. We do a tabletop and then
we’ll do a field exercise.
“We do that every month. We
have a drill. We’ll do one in New
York. We’ll do one in Maine.
Sometimes we do cruise ships.
We’ve got the ferries that go out to
Long Island Sound. Sometimes
there will be a pollution scenario.
Sometimes it will be a security inci-
dent. What if a ship was taken over
by some bad guys, [to] take out a
bridge or something?” he said. “We
kind of look for what is the worst
thing that could happen in New
England. We’ve looked at all those
scenarios and we practice them.”
A recent exercise that Popiel
said “really tested us” was with the
ocean liner Queen Mary II, which
transits the Atlantic between
Europe and New York and cruises
up and down the New England
and Canadian coast.
The exercise involved a loss-of-propulsion scenario
at sea and included the ship’s crew, the Coast Guard
and Canadian officials. It looked at such things as getting resources to the ship to fix the problem and
attending to sick passengers, and then threw in the
added twist of having a storm moving in that was
going to exacerbate the situation.
“We take on things that we know are going to stress
our system,” Popiel said.
Not long after the exercise, on May 9, a Cape Cod-based MH- 60 Jayhawk rescue crew ended up being dispatched to Queen Mary II to evacuate a sick passenger
when the ship was about 180 miles south of
Nantucket, according to a report from First District
During the response boat patrol, crew members
talked about a recent joint interagency exercise involving a simulated aircraft crash into Quincy Bay that tested how all of the port partners would respond.
“Every year we do that to keep us fresh, just in case,
because we do have a major airport right here,” said
Machinery Technician 2nd Class Joseph Prest, as the
boat slid past Logan Airport.
“We work with the fire department and state police,
MassPort [the Massachusetts Port Authority]. If we get a
call, they’re going to be there,” added Ciarametaro as he
steered the boat. “We know a lot of those guys.” ■
Coast Guard crews partnered with local and federal law enforcement teams
in Boston Harbor to provide maritime security for the Boston Marathon
Bombing Trial Jan. 5. The crews patrolled and enforced a security zone around
the waters of the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse.