By Lt. Cmdr. Leah Cole, USCG

On March 1, US Coast Guard Sector Honolulu and USCGC WALNUT hosted Fellows from the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, currently completing a five Week Comprehensive Crisis Management course, graduating on March 13, 2019.

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, who serves as the Captain of the Port of Honolulu as well as the main prevention and response provider for maritime crisis management across the State of Hawaii and all US Flagged Pacific territories, detailed the multi-mission, inter-agency partnerships that Sector Honolulu prioritizes and leverages on a daily basis for contingency response. DKI APCSS Fellows valued seeing two real cases of vessel groundings and maritime responses, especially the recent 2018 Pacific Paradise vessel grounding just offshore Waikiki, as it touched upon Search and Rescue, Pollution Removal, and Vessel extraction in one real-life scenario. Sector Honolulu discussed the challenges of the vastness of the Pacific Area of Responsibility (AOR) as well as issues surrounding weather patterns and storms changing and increasing, which was highly relevant to each of the Fellows, as these are all emerging trends in their respective countries.

The Fellows shared their own efforts to combat some of these very same issues in their respective countries and asked about emerging technologies and communication during crisis response. Sector Honolulu also highlighted the command relationships and command center centrality to the ability to launch timely, coordinated air and sea operations. This is an area many of the CCM 19-1 Fellows are building upon in their respective command centers, so this was a great area of collaboration and discussion.  Sector Honolulu Executive Officer, CDR Mullins shared that “Collaborative environment helps us achieve success” with specific mention of State, Local, Police, NOAA, DOD, and Industry. These linkages and relationships are directly applicable to nearly 60% of these CCM 19-1 Fellows’ projects, making our visit to the US Coast Guard helpful even beyond the scope of the five-week Comprehensive Crisis Management Course.

Next, the CCM 19-1 Fellows visited USCGC WALNUT, a 225′ seagoing buoy tender, the only class of ship that has the ability to both reconstitute ports and waterways after a crisis event or respond to a major pollution event at sea.  The CCM 19-1 Fellows greatly appreciated the tangible, operational perspective and putting hands on the equipment that is used every day to address pollution, environmental and weather, navigational hazard, as well as search and rescue events. The Fellows enjoyed the ship’s hands-on approach and seeing the different perspectives and uses of the ship’s missions and equipment. Fellows especially valued hearing about the interoperability of the crew with the dive team, small boat, and cutter in order to conduct port surveys and port reconstitution after a major storm, tsunami or marine accident.

CCM 19-1 Fellows also appreciated hearing about operations offshore, mission planning and prioritization in how you maintain all of the main Hawaiian Island chain, while based out of Honolulu. These are major challenges our partners are also looking to overcome, and are building their capabilities by investing in new technology, acquisitions, and their training programs. So, spending time onboard and hearing about maritime concepts of operations, dynamic positioning systems, electronic navigation and communication was very impactful.  Many of the CCM 19-1 Fellows watched the BP Oil spill event of 2010 on CNN and BBC and were very curious to learn more about the Coast Guard’s offshore pollution response capabilities. USCGC WALNUT was able to show the equipment used, as well as share personal accounts and experiences from their crew’s own personal service during DEEPWATER HORIZON, while also showing what we use today and going through how we would respond if something happened tomorrow.

The US Coast Guard and Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies will partner again in July 2019 to host Pacific Search and Rescue (PACSAR) in Honolulu.