Training for search-and-rescue in the high seas

Posted on Mar 27 2019

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Cooper speaks at a search and rescue planning meeting led by Coast Guardsmen from the U.S. Coast Guard 14th District during Pacific Partnership 2019. (US Navy /MCS1 Tyrell K. Morris)

Pacific Partnership 2019 and Republic of the Marshall Islands began a search and rescue exercise last March 20.

The three-day exercise began with a planning meeting that was hosted by Coast Guardsmen from the U.S. Coast Guard 14th District.

District 14 covers the Coast Guard’s largest area of responsibility which stretches from the Hawaiian Islands and across most of the Central and Western Pacific, to include the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“We have a close working relationship with the Marshall Islands and this planning meeting is a great opportunity for us to discuss any concerns and streamline our procedures to minimize casualties and maximize our ability to provide rescue assistance,” said U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Joint Rescue Coordination Center chief Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Cooper.

Pacific Partnership acknowledges the complexity of disaster response operations and the leading part civilian organizations have. The mission provides a platform to deepen understanding and awareness of the military contribution and enhances key relationship with civilian partners.

Servicemembers from the U.S. Navy, Royal Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army along with Marshallese government officials from the Marshall Islands National Disaster Management Office, sea patrol and police department attended the planning meeting.

A recent vessel grounding incident within the Marshall Islands prompted the meeting and was an opportunity for partner nations to conduct a knowledge exchange, cover lessons learned, and go over details for the upcoming field training exercise.

“It is important when working with partner nations and several different government organizations that everyone is speaking the same language and adhering to similar policies and procedures to ensure mission capability and sustainability,” said Royal Navy Capt. Paddy Allen, Pacific Partnership 2019 director of mission.

Pacific Partnership aims to enhance host nation capability, build regional relationships and exercise a collective ability to respond to all hazards.

The U.S. Coast Guard will be leading the two day SAREX field training exercise in the Marshall Islands working with Marshallese sea patrol and local police to evaluate casualty response to a simulated distress incident.

The exercise aims to enhance the command, leadership and incident management capacity of local government agencies involved in disaster management and SAR operations, and allow partner nations the opportunity to integrate their skills sets as required.

The impact of disaster emergencies transcends borders and requires comprehensive preparation and coordination among nations for effective disaster response.

Pacific Partnership, now in its 14th iteration, is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. Each year, the mission team works collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase stability and security in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships in the Indo-Pacific. (USCG)

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