News: Joint Base commanders get firsthand look at Coast Guard July Fourth preparation efforts
WASHINGTON – Personnel from U.S. Coast Guard Station Washington conducted final preparations for one of the year’s busiest boating weekends, while Air Force and Navy personnel looked on.
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) Commander Navy Capt. Frank Mays and Vice Commander Air Force Col. Michael E. Saunders observed the Coast Guardsmen ready lifesaving, search and rescue and law enforcement equipment.
Coast Guard Sector Baltimore Commander Capt. Kevin C. Kiefer and Station Washington’s commanding officer, Lt. Celina H. Ladyga, provided Mays and Saunders with a tour of the Coast Guard station before heading to JBAB’s marina to learn about the Coast Guard waterborne assets berthed there.
The four military officers then got underway with the JBAB-based Coast Guard crew aboard one of its 29-foot rescue response boats to gain familiarization with the Coast Guards’ multiple missions.
During the multi-mission maritime safety patrol, Kiefer and Ladyga proudly spoke about the Coast Guards’ strategic and tactical level capabilities, which enables it to perform its broad set of law enforcement, search and rescue, national security, homeland defense and homeland security responsibilities, including the detection, deterrence and defense against potential terrorist attacks around and within our nation's capital.
The July Fourth weekend is one the Coast Guard's busiest weekends, as hundreds of boaters transit the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers in order to view Washington’s historic monuments and crowd into a relatively small area to watch the spectacular fireworks display at night.
The number of boats and people on this stretch of the river far exceeds what can be found on any other night of the year. This naturally makes for a busy weekend on the water of law enforcement and Homeland Security activities, as well as potential lifesaving actions, according to Coast Guard officials.
The Coast Guard plans carefully to help ensure that boaters navigate and operate safety, without injury, loss of life or damage to property, while still being able to enjoy themselves and celebrate the nation’s birth.
The area of the Potomac south of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and north of the Arlington Memorial Bridge is a favorite location for boaters to get a front-row seat to the fireworks display, which takes place on the National Mall.
There the Coast Guard, along with its local law enforcement partners, enforce and maintain a security zone, restricting movement of vessels just before and during the fireworks display, to enhance security and safety.
“We spend a lot of time preparing operational plans, putting crews together, increasing partnerships with the local agencies, communicating with them what our plans are,” said Ladyga.
“I think we’re as prepared as we can be for an event like this, but nothing is ever routine, so we’ll be ready to engage whatever threat may arise or any case that may happen,” she continued.
Mays said the visit and patrol was valuable beyond the familiarization it provided him with the station’s Fourth of July plans and operations. It also assisted in helping Mays better plan strategically for JBAB as a whole.
“The folks at Coast Guard Station Washington were especially accommodating and are good mission partners. I appreciate the opportunity to see JBAB from the water, to better help with future assessments of security requirements and to get a better idea of the Coast Guard’s overall capabilities and see how they can help out in times of emergency management,” Mays said.
Kiefer said it was great to meet the joint base leaders and to accompany them on the maritime patrol. He appreciated the opportunity, as the sector commander, to personally thank Mays for the base’s support, show existing Coast Guard capabilities available to JBAB today and brief the two joint base leaders about future capabilities that will become available to them over the coming months and years.
“As a member of the Coast Guard, we don’t have joint bases of which we are a really a large shareholder. The staff at the base has been really great in working with us and helping us to navigate the complexities of a joint base,” Ladyga said.
Joseph P. Cirone, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Public Affairs contributed to this story.
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