ST. LOUIS - The U.S. Coast Guard announced the formation of a Maritime Recovery and Restoration Task Force here to assist incident commanders engaged in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
The task force, headed by Rear Adm. Larry Hereth, will identify maritime issues affecting people, the environment, infrastructure and the economy. By working in concert with local, state and federal partners as well as maritime industry and other stakeholders, the task force will be able to identify those actions necessary for the short-term recovery and long-term restoration of the Maritime Transportation System (MTS).
The task force uses a variety of measurements to quantify the short-term recovery rate for the MTS while also identifying actions needed for long-term restoration of the MTS. Short-term recovery of the MTS is described as the ability for a waterway, facility or other infrastructure to operate at a limited or less than optimal capacity. Long-term restoration will be achieved when waterways, facilities or other infrastructure are operating at pre-hurricane capacity. For example, on Sept. 7, the Port of Mobile was open to vessel traffic with a draft of 43 feet or less during daylight hours only – the port was in short-term recovery. When the Port of Mobile is able to accept ships of all drafts in all conditions, as it had before the hurricane, the port will have achieved long-term restoration.
Staffed by 10 Coast Guard officers, two National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration (NOAA) officers, and representatives from the Mineral Management Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, the task force can contact MTS stakeholders in the field to solicit information and to provide them support, allowing them to remain engaged in response operations.
A naturally occurring part of Coast Guard response operations for Hurricane Katrina, the task force is collocated in St. Louis with the Eighth Coast Guard District Incident Management Team
and the temporarily relocated Eighth Coast Guard District staff. The task force is a naturally occurring part of the Coast Guard’s response to Hurricane Katrina and serves as a support element for the incident commanders engaged in response operations. The task force will use quantifiable data to measure short-term recovery and long-term restoration in the areas of waterways management, critical infrastructure and the environment.
Critical infrastructure measurements will depict the status of bridges (as they impact navigable waterways), regulated marine transfer facilities, port facilities, locks, offshore oil and gas production facilities and offshore pipelines. The number and type of oil spills and hazardous materials releases are part of the environmental measurements, as are measurements relating to the commercial fishing industry. Waterways management measurements will address the status of Aids to Navigation, the navigability of federal shipping channels, deep draft and shallow draft shipping and passenger vessel operations.
The restoration of the Maritime Transportation System is critical to the health and economic viability of the Gulf Coast region and has significant national economic and trade implications.