Story by Lt. Kristen Potter National Strike Force Atlantic Strike Team July 24, 2013


Calais, Maine & Saint John, N.B. Canada — The Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team (AST) joined 58 other Federal, State, Local, Industry and International partners to participate in the Canadian-US Atlantic Joint Preparedness Team (CANUSLANT) 2013 Full Scale Response Exercise from June 17-21, 2013.  The AST was invited to take part in this unique international exercise, which was conducted concurrently in three different locations throughout the United States and Canada.  AST directly supported with ten personnel, in two of the three locations.   
The biennial exercise is designed to test response portions of the Joint Marine Pollution Contingency Plan, focusing on the Atlantic Coast and to strengthen US-Canadian partnerships and interoperability.  It ensures overall response preparedness, enhances the individual skill of participants, and ensures that in the case of an environmental response incident, such as an oil spill, that resources would be available and effectively deployed.  The exercise had two primary functions: an incident management portion which involved the set up and activation of the Incident Command System (ICS) and an equipment deployment exercise.  AST members contributed to the success of both portions. 
At the Incident Command Post in Calais, Maine, responders were given a scenario which involved a collision of two vessels and resulted in a major oil discharge in Canadian waters.  AST provided with two team members functioning as coaches and evaluators for personnel involved in Command functions, Planning and Operations, as the Incident Management Team prepped for possible movement of oil into U.S. waters.        
 “This was an incredible chance to team with the very same partners we would be responding with on an actual pollution response, and gave everyone the opportunity to further those excellent working relationships and learn from each other,” said Mr. Dean Matthews, training coordinator at the AST.

Chief Petty Officer Michael Presti, Petty Officer First Class James Maida, and Petty Officer Second Class Andrew Johnson assemble the foam filled boom for deployment onboard the CGC Edward Cornwallis.

Additionally, AST led the equipment deployment portion of the exercise in Saint John, N.B., coordinating a boom deployment and use of an oil skimming system off of two vessels.  Utilizing the Portland, ME based Coast Guard Cutter Marcus Hanna and the Halifax based Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Edward Cornwallis, the Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System (VOSS) was deployed both pier side and out in the open water.  AST members provided safety oversight and trained U.S and Canadian crews on the use of this equipment.  Because the VOSS can be used on many different types of ships during an oil spill response, including military and commercial vessels, this was an excellent venue to demonstrate its effectiveness and interoperability with our international partners.

The USCGC MARCUS HANNA and the CCG Edward Cornwallis were used to deploy the Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System