The U.S. Coast Guard will be conducting ‘Operation Secure Port’ this week on St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to a press release from the agency on Tuesday.
In cooperation with responders from more than 22 federal, state, local and industry agencies and organizations, the maritime security functional exercise on Wednesday and Thursday will not provide for the actual deployment of operational assets in the area. The press release said there is no cause for public alarm.
Agencies will focus primarily on their ability to alert, mobilize and activate personnel, facilities and resources for an emergency response, test their communications, and establish an Incident Command and Unified Command structure to coordinate interagency response operations.
The exercise is part of the nationwide Area Maritime Security Training and Exercise Program, and is being conducted to test the effectiveness of the Area Maritime Security Plan and its guidance for addressing portwide security incidents in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Operation Secure Port will bring emergency response agencies and industry responders together at the Puerto Rico Ports Authority Navy Frontier Pier in San Juan and at the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency Emergency Operations Center on St. Thomas to meet and test their ability to respond to a maritime transportation security threat in the area.
The Coast Guard recognizes that providing maritime security in the Caribbean region requires close coordination of area responders. The scenario involved in this functional exercise will challenge participants to make difficult decisions, carry out essential functions and maintain a common operating picture during a port security incident, the release said. Interagency coordination and communication will play key roles in the exercise’s success, as well as enhance readiness for future incidents.
In addition to VITEMA and the Coast Guard, participating agencies and industry organizations include the V.I. Port Authority, FBI, Royal Caribbean cruise lines, C&C Port Services on St. Thomas, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Transportation Security Administration, Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency, Puerto Rico Ports Authority, Puerto Rico Department of Homeland Security, Puerto Rico Center for Disease Control San Juan Station, Puerto Rican Shipping Agency, Puerto Rico Shipping Horizon Lines and Puerto Rico Eco EcoElectric.