MSST to be Commissioned in Hampton Roads

Wednesday, August 14, 2002
The Coast Guard’s newest weapon against terrorism will be commissioned in a formal ceremony 9:30 a.m. Friday at Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown, Va. Representative Jo Ann Davis (R-VA) will be the guest speaker for the commissioning ceremony. Atlantic Area Commander Vice Adm. James Hull will be the presiding official. Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) 91102, the second of six Coast Guard anti-terrorism/force protection teams to be established as a direct result of the Sept. 11 attacks, will be commissioned after completing an intensive four-week initial training course at Camp Lejeune, N.C., which culminated in a 36-hour exercise in the port of Wilmington, N.C., last month. The team received training in advanced boat tactics and maneuvers, use of lethal and non-lethal weapons and advanced law enforcement tactics. “These are specially trained teams that will provide an additional layer of protection within U.S. ports and waterways,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joe Rodriguez, commanding officer of the team. The domestic, mobile MSST, modeled after pre-existing Coast Guard Port Security Units and Law Enforcement Detachments, will be established regionally in Hampton Roads to respond to terrorist threats or incidents in ports and waterways throughout the country. “MSSTs are just one element of our layered defense posture in our ports, all of which have taken significant steps since Sept. 11 to detect, deter and prevent terrorism,” said Rodriguez. MSSTs are another important tool, along with better intelligence, new regulations, security patrols and better partnerships with the Department of Defense, other law enforcement agencies and the maritime industry to enhance the Coast Guard’s homeland security efforts. The MSST will deploy in support of national events such as OpSail, the Olympics or storm recovery operations. The will also be used to protect military load-outs, enforce security zones, defend critical waterside facilities in strategic ports, interdict illegal activities and provide a modest level of shore-side force protection. Each MSST, consisting of approximately 100 Coast Guard men and women, has two deployable teams - each with a boat detachment and a landside security team. While the boat detachment patrols the waters, the shore-side team adds extra eyes and ears while checking for pier-side threats and keeping land access secure. MSST 91102 will be temporarily based out of TRACEN Yorktown, able to deploy within 12 hours to anywhere on the Eastern seaboard via boat trailer or Coast Guard C-130 airplane. The team will be permanently assigned in Chesapeake, Va., upon completion of facilities co-located with the Coast Guard’s Communication Area Master Station, Atlantic (CAMSLANT) already located in Chesapeake. The first MSST was commissioned July 3 in Seattle. Five other teams are scheduled to complete training by the end of September. This year, along with the Hampton Roads team, teams scheduled to be stationed in Los Angeles/Long Beach, and Houston/Galveston will come online. Next fiscal year will see teams assigned to the ports of New York/New Jersey and Jacksonville, Fla.

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