New Interagency Operations Center
Opens on Yerba Buena Island
A new interagency operations center for maritime operations in the San Francisco Bay area officially opened recently in a ceremony at the Coast Guard’s Yerba Buena Island base. Representative Nancy Pelosi gave the keynote address at the event attended by dozens of federal, state and local agency representatives along with other members of the maritime industry.
“The IOC will allow a coordinated response to emergencies that impact our nation’s waterways, and, as a result, the American people,” said Pelosi. “The Coast Guard’s motto is ‘Semper Paratus,’ or ‘Always Ready;’ the IOC will help ensure that we are always ready to plan and to respond in order to keep the American people safe.”
The new center represents a strategic initiative mandated by the SAFE Port Act. The facility serves to better plan, coordinate and execute operations requiring multiple agencies by directing operations from a central base while using interoperable communications.
“This interagency operations center—IOC for short—allows us to bring together federal, state and local stakeholders to improve information sharing and tactical coordination,” said Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown, commander of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area and Coast Guard Defense Force West and event presiding official. “Through its embedded systems and its collaborative layout, the IOC allows us to respond to maritime crises and deter threats within this critical port area.”
The event also marked the acceptance of the Coast Guard’s new Rescue 21 communications system, which was incorporated into the new command center at Sector San Francisco.
“Yerba Buena Island is in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, and the new command center is the heart of ports, waterways safety and security in this area,” said Rear Admiral Joseph “Pepe” Castillo, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District. “The mariners, boaters and citizens of this area deserve the best possible services we can provide and this center helps us do just that. It brings together highly skilled people from the Coast Guard and other agencies in a flexible, state-of-the-art facility custom made for coordinating all types of essential field operations from regular day-to-day patrols to responses to major emergencies,” he said.
Coast Guard to Increase Oversight of
Foreign Mobile Offshore Drilling Units
To complement its existing safety inspection regime for foreign-flagged vessels operating in U.S. waters, the Coast Guard announced an additional layer of risk-based safety oversight for mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs) as part of an ongoing review of marine safety policies following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire and subsequent oil spill. Currently, U.S.- and foreign-flagged MODUs operating in U.S. waters undergo annual examinations to verify compliance with domestic laws, regulations and international conventions— ensuring that a vessel’s major systems are in compliance and that crew training and performance, such as lifesaving and firefighting drills, meet all applicable standards.
When an examination reveals questionable equipment, systems, or crew competency issues onboard a MODU, the Coast Guard expands the examination as necessary to determine whether a deficiency exists, a process that may require additional tests, inspections or crew drills deemed necessary at the discretion of Coast Guard inspectors. The Coast Guard documents any deficiencies and mandates they be corrected; depending on the severity of the deficiencies, the Coast Guard may curtail vessel operations as appropriate until the deficiencies are corrected.
With the announcement, Coast Guard marine inspectors will add an additional, risk-based layer of inspection for foreign-flagged MODUs operating on the U.S. outer continental shelf. Inspectors will determine the risk MODUs pose by examining accident history, past discrepancies, flag state performance and classification society performance to identify those vessels requiring additional oversight. Risk-based targeting allows for more frequent examinations of the highest risk MODUs and efficient use of Coast Guard resources.
“We continue to work to increase the level of safety oversight on the outer continental shelf and find ways to better prevent an event like we saw on board the Deepwater Horizon last year,” said Rear Admiral Kevin Cook, director of Prevention Policy for the U.S. Coast Guard. “This additional, risk-based inspection process— coupled with the inspection program already in place—will ensure that flag states, owners, operators and other stakeholders are held accountable for the operations and conditions on board their MODUs.”
The new system is based on a current Coast Guard safety and environmental protection targeting matrix that has been successful at identifying highrisk foreign vessels of all kinds for more than 10 years. In 2010, the Coast Guard screened 76,372 foreign vessel arrivals and conducted more than 9,900 examinations to ensure the safety and security of the nation’s ports and waterways.
Coast Guard and NSWC Corona
Partner in NSC Qualification Trials
The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona entered into a partnership with the Coast Guard to provide performance assessment capability to the Coast Guard’s advanced National Security Cutter (NSC)-class through combat systems ship qualification trials (CSSQT).
“This agreement establishes Corona and CG-9335 Moorestown as the Coast Guard command and control performance analysis agents for NSC,” said Ahmedur Majumder, Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate NSC execution manager. “This minimizes costs and allows us to support data extraction and analysis for these important exercises now and into the future.” CSSQTs are performed to verify that shipboard combat and weapon systems are installed properly and can be operated and maintained safely and effectively by the crew. The trials also validate developmental testing and tactics for the ships and crews.
According to Majumder, prior to the agreement CSSQTs for the Coast Guard were a joint effort between that service and the Navy with contractors heavily relied upon. The new agreement defines Corona’s roles and responsibilities for performing data collection, data distribution, data management, system performance analysis and test reporting during all NSC test events. “This partnership leverages existing capability within the Navy to support our sister maritime service,” said NSWC Corona commanding officer Captain Jay Kadowaki. “It is an excellent example of the intellectual horsepower that can be harnessed for new tasking and helps execute our nation’s maritime strategy.”
As a Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) field activity, NSWC Corona operates under NAVSEA’s Technical Authority Warrant for force-level and combat systems assessment for all but the undersea warfare systems. Corona brings technical expertise and analysis methodologies—developed from decades of conducting performance assessment for the Navy—to Coast Guard CSSQTs. According to the Coast Guard’s Acquisition Directorate, as multiple maritime and military roles of the Coast Guard have grown in scope and significance since the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the U.S., the NSC’s capability requirements have evolved to respond.
The 418-foot, Legend class NSC cutter is the flagship of the Coast Guard’s surface fleet, featuring 12,000-nautical-mile range, 60-day endurance cycle and robust command, control and defense systems. In addition to maritime homeland security and law enforcement missions, NSCs will also support national defense missions, including supporting the mission requirements of the joint U.S. combatant commanders. The Coast Guard commissioned the first NSC, USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750), in 2008 and plans to build eight altogether. NSWC Port Hueneme, supported by sister division NSWC Corona, led the first Coast Guard CSSQT on Bertholf.
NSWC Corona is one of the Navy’s newest designated federal labs and serves as the service’s independent assessment agent. It is responsible for gauging the war fighting capability of weapons and integrated combat systems through assessment of system performance, readiness, quality and supportability, as well as the adequacy of training. The base is home to three premier national laboratories and assessment centers: the Joint Warfare Assessment Lab; the Measurement Science and Technology Lab; and the Daugherty Memorial Assessment Center, dedicated to fallen Sailor Petty Officer 1st Class Steven P. Daugherty. ♦