PACIFIC OCEAN –
The exercise integrated CRG-1 and CRS-4 into the SAR efforts that HSC-25 and USCG Sector Guam routinely support. A week prior to the event stakeholders from each command came to discuss the actions during a tabletop exercise.
“Thank you to everyone here for providing the Coast Guard with your assistance,” said USCG Capt. Christopher Chase, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam as he spoke to Sailors assigned to CRG-1, CRS-4 and HSC-25. “One of the Coast Guard's primary missions is search and rescue, by exercising our joint search and rescue capabilities with our Navy partners it provides a unique opportunity to understand each others’ abilities and ensures maximum effectiveness when conducting real life operations.”
During the exercise, CRS-4 Sailors manned two Mark VI patrol crafts, assigned to CRG-1, simulating search patterns with lookouts posted on the boats. Two MH-60S Seahawk helicopters, assigned to and manned by Sailors from HSC-25 were dispatched to the exercise.
Crews aboard each Mark VI boat retrieved a SAR dummy, while communicating between each patrol craft and a helicopter. Tactical combat casualty care was applied to each SAR dummy as a helicopter lowered a Navy rescue swimmer and litter to hoist the SAR dummy to the aircraft, simulating a medical evacuation.
“My Sailors maintained flawless communication with each other and other parties involved,” said Lt. Brian Striffler, assigned to CRS-4 as a Mark VI patrol officer. “This was only our second time working with helicopters, and our tactical combat casualty care and litter handling went very well. We hold each other to the highest standards and my team executed the exercise flawlessly.”
This exercise is the first with CRG-1 working with USCG SAR, while CRS units have recently integrated U.S. Coast Guard track lines, which are nautical passageways clear of hazards, into their digital navigational charts.
“We’ve been working with CRG-1 and the CRSs for a year and a half,” said USCG Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Pete O’Brien, assigned to Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor, who surveyed the exercise. “While we’ve routinely worked with HSC-25, CRG-1 has never been involved in SAR, so to take everyone on the island, all available assets, and integrate them to SAR efforts was great.”
Communication started a key component in the exercise and remained a highlight through the end.
“It was phenomenal,” O’Brien said of his survey of the exercise. “Everything was good, especially the communication. The techniques the Navy used were very similar to our SAR training, although the Navy SAR uses different equipment than Coast Guard – it was very impressive.”
Integration between the USCG and Navy in Guam has been a focus to improve mission readiness and effectiveness.