The United States and Canadian personnel began a three-day joint maritime exercise Tuesday near Juneau.
The crews of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa, a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and the Canadian Royal Navy vessels HMCS Brandon and HMCS Whitehorse tested search and rescue planning efforts and the coordination of rescue assets through a simulated a mass casualty and evacuation response from one vessel to the others in Stephens Passage.
During the next two days, the HMCS crews will work with Coast Guard Station Juneau smallboat crews to conduct law enforcement and escort training. Finally, both organizations will conduct briefings about operations in the Pacific Northwest and the Arctic at the district office in the Juneau federal building.
“This joint training allows us to share best practices and familiarize each other with our procedures prior to a joint response,” said Lt. Shea Winterberger, of the Coast Guard 17th District response enforcement staff. “The goal is for both agencies to be ready to respond to mariners in distress.”
The U.S. Coast Guard shares northern and southern maritime borders with Canadian partners and the agencies often work together to respond to search and rescue cases, prepare for oil spill response and enforce fisheries regulations across jurisdictions.
In 2013 a similar larger-scale exercise was conducted in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, simulating a response to a downed aircraft in the Arctic. In April the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a joint training exercise with Royal Canadian air force and U.S. Air Force to practice escort and interception maneuvers north of Alaska.
The Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa is a 110-foot Island-class patrol boat homeported in Petersburg. The HMCS Brandon and HMCS Whitehorse are both 181-foot Kingston-class coastal defence vessels and are homeported at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt in British Columbia.
Press Release, May 14, 2014; Image: Wikimedia