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USCG engages in maritime activities in Saipan to enhance response, safety and security

By Sara Muir


Saipan — Saipan partners hosted a series of critical engagements involving senior leaders from the U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, highlighting the Coast Guard's ongoing commitment to maritime safety, security, and environmental stewardship in the CNMI from Feb. 28 – March 1.

Capt. Nick Simmons, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia and the Captain of the Port for Guam and the Marianas, was joined by Cmdr. Ryan Crose, response department head; Lt. Henry Dunphy, emergency management and force readiness division chief; Jack Ary, port security specialist, and Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Dunning, a marine science technician, conducted a productive series of meetings, exercises, and assessments aimed at bolstering the CNMI's maritime capabilities and readiness.

"The maritime transportation system and our ports are not just the backbone of our economy; they are the lifeblood of our communities and a critical asset for our regional security," Simmons said.

"Ensuring their safety, security, stewardship, and efficiency is paramount, not just for the prosperity of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands but for the Pacific as a whole. Through steadfast collaboration and unwavering commitment, we will continue to safeguard these vital resources and waterways for future generations," he added.

Among the week's activities were a Government-Initiated Unannounced Exercise (GIUE) at Mobil Saipan, meetings of the Area Maritime Security Committee (AMSC) and the Mariana Islands Area Contingency Plan (MIACP) Committee, and visits to the Commonwealth Ports Authority (CPA) and the Customs and Biosecurity offices.

The GIUE is a pivotal component of the U.S. Coast Guard's strategy to ensure preparedness for environmental emergencies, sharing best practices, and identifying areas for improvement.

These exercises are designed to evaluate emergency response procedures to simulated maritime incidents, such as oil spills, which are critical for enhancing the effectiveness of incident management and response efforts.

The primary goal of a GIUE is to ensure that the plan holder can effectively implement their response plan during a marine environmental response scenario. The program builds on the successes of previous GIUEs conducted in Rota and Tinian in February.

"The GIUE was a testament to this spirit of cooperation. It served as a forward-looking exercise that brought to light invaluable lessons, reinforcing the need for timely notification of our Oil Spill Response Organizations (OSROs) and the critical examination of our response equipment's condition," said Lt. Justin Miller, supervisor of Marine Safety Detachment Saipan.

"The incidents of equipment failure, such as the boom rope breaking, underscore the importance of rigorous checks for wear and potential degradation. As we reflect on these lessons, the prospect of conducting another GIUE in the future is likely and supports our continuous improvement and preparedness efforts. This iterative process of learning and adaptation ensures that our collective response to environmental emergencies is effective and resilient," he added.

In addition to the GIUE, the week's engagements facilitated in-depth discussions on pollution prevention and response as well as maritime security and safety strategies, reinforcing the collaborative framework between the Coast Guard, CNMI authorities, and maritime industry stakeholders. The AMSC and MIACP Committee meetings provided platforms for dialogue on enhancing maritime domain awareness, emergency response, and operational coordination.

Internal training efforts by Chief Petty Officer Rod Bawar and others saw increased capabilities among our Saipan-based team and represent a significant investment in building local capacity and expertise, ensuring personnel in CNMI are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for maintaining high standards of maritime safety and security efforts to strengthen oversight and investigative capabilities within the CNMI's maritime sector. This achievement and ongoing investigation underscores the Coast Guard's dedication to upholding the highest maritime governance and accountability standards.

"Our day-to-day collaborations and partnerships among CNMI port partners form the cornerstone of our maritime safety and security efforts. Together, we've built a robust network that responds to challenges and anticipates them, ensuring the integrity and efficiency of our maritime operations," said Lt. Miller.

"In the face of Typhoon Mawar, Saipan's readiness and resilience were tested, demonstrating our community's strength and preparedness. As Guam came back online, the collective support and solidarity between our islands underscored the unbreakable bond we share, ensuring that together, we can weather any challenge and emerge stronger," Miller added.

The involvement of the Captain of the Port and Coast Guard staff in these activities is essential for fostering a secure, safe, and resilient maritime environment in the Marianas. Through collaboration, exercises, and rigorous assessments, the U.S. Coast Guard remains steadfast in protecting the maritime interests of the CNMI, Guam, and the United States, ensuring the well-being of our marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.


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