POSTED OCT 5th, 2012
Story by Lt. Doug Dresnek, Pacific Strike Team National Strike Force
Members of the Pacific Strike Team participated in an inter-agency waterborne radiation detection exercise in San Francisco Bay. The exercise was co-hosted by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Lab and Coast Guard Sector San Francisco in anticipation of the pending America’s Cup sailboat race series returning to the bay.
The strike team worked alongside Coast Guard Marine Safety and Security Team 91105, the 95th Civil Support Team from the California National Guard, San Francisco Fire Department, San Francisco Police Department, Oakland Police Department and the Department of Fish and Game.
The exercise was staged on Yerba Buena Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. It started early in the morning, Sept. 20, 2012, the exercise was broken into phases, covering different detection scenarios. Representatives from the DOE utilized low-energy radiation sources to trigger detection equipment carried by the different responders on board agency vessels. This “hide and seek” was conducted along sections of the shoreline, the harbor facility, and among vessels underway to challenge responders and their detection equipment.
“This exercise was an excellent test of our equipment and tactics as well as working with multiple agencies to see how they train and how they view some of the common obstacles that we face working together,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Gary Barnum, a marine science technician with the PST.
The exercise provided an opportunity to develop scanning techniques that differentiate the background radiation over water versus those seen in proximity to land. The exercise provided beneficial training for eight members of the PST’s chemical and deck departments in radiation detection equipment and small boat operations.
“This particular exercise was a great opportunity to collaborate with multiple agencies in radiation detection. Not only did the exercise provide an opportunity to see different equipment and capabilities that other agencies have, it allowed the PST to strengthen our ability to operate radiation detection equipment while underway,” said Ensign Leigh Van Lear, the Chemical Officer for the PST.
The ability to detect and respond to radiation is one of the many vital components of the Coast Guard’s mission to protect and secure local ports and waterways. While some radioactive sources occur naturally in the environment, illicit activities such as the smuggling of contraband or terrorist events have the potential to introduce harmful radiation to port facilities. In collaboration with local law enforcement, state, and federal agencies, the Coast Guard continually hones its ability to deter, detect, and respond to these types of threats.
“The World’s Best Responders: Any Time, Any Place, Any Hazard.”