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NEWS | Dec. 12, 2013

Tsunami Exercise Strengthens Navy's Readiness on Guam

By Jesse Leon Guerrero Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam - U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) and its tenant commands conducted the annual tsunami exercise at NBG Dec. 12.

"This tsunami exercise will provide Naval Base Guam and strategic partners to exercise their command control and communication capabilities and satisfy internal reporting and training requirements in an all-natural hazard environment," said NBG Installation and Training Officer Olympio Magofna.

During the exercise, a simulated 9.1 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Philippines and created a tsunami that was expected to reach Guam within five hours. NBG tenants were advised to stay away from coastal and low-lying areas, and offices were evacuated.

Naval Special Warfare Unit 1 Executive Officer Cmdr. Eric Skalski led a convoy of trailers, hitched boats and other vehicles to a designated safe point at the Orote Flightline to avoid the simulated threat.

"The benefit of an exercise like this is that we're not caught off guard and that we know what to do when the time to do it occurs, rather than trying to figure it out on the day of," he said. "It's improving us with material and force readiness."

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam (USCG) Chief Operations Specialist Brian Koji said in a real-life situation the command might only have two hours to respond and go through all of their emergency checklists and notification procedures. Koji and other Coast Guardsmen set up a portable high-frequency communications system at the Joint Region Marianas headquarters, which allowed USCG to maintain their communications with the emergency management office in Saipan and vessels around Guam.

"It is important for us to practice our skills because it has to be automatic when we're going through everything," he said. "If we don't practice, we're not as proficient with setting up our gear."

Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Distribution Guam Marianas Director Joe Pirman said it only took between three to five minutes for about 60 DLA employees to evacuate from their offices near Tango Wharf to Ebbett Field.

"Take it seriously because you never know when it's really going to happen," he said. "This is something that we can do for a typhoon, earthquake or tsunami. When a real world thing happens, if it happens, we will know what to do."

This article was originally published at: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=78222
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