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Coast Guard, Navy Partner With CNMI To Assess Storm Damages

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS091023-13
Release Date: 10/23/2009 1:55:00 PM

By Jesse Leon Guerrero, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy partnered to assist neighboring islands affected by Typhoon Melor and conduct damage assessments Oct. 4.

The mission was standard operations for the Coast Guard to re-open a harbor after a typhoon for commerce and ensure that vital supplies to residents are not cut off.

Melor never quite reached Guam, but it stormed westward, and Saipan, Tinian and Rota residents felt the effects of winds that reached more than 50 miles per hour with about two and a half inches of rainfall.

After Melor passed the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, two helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 transported Coast Guard personnel to Saipan for damage assessments.

The group, which included members of the Pacific Strike Team, also conducted fly-over to identify any damage to the buoys and ranges. The Coast Guard's maritime safety mission is to ensure safe navigation for vessels in its various areas of responsibility. These buoys and ranges help ships navigate which are moving to and from the ports of Tinian, Saipan and Rota. Such damage could impede the flow of such supplies as food and fuel into the region.

According to Lt. Elizabeth Buendia, public affairs officer for Coast Guard Sector Guam, the fly-overs determined that, although more aids to navigation were affected in Saipan, the three islands all had similar low levels of damage to its buoys and ranges. Those findings were instrumental in getting the port of Saipan reopened.

During a storm, oil spills and other hazardous material can create an environmental problem if they have leaked or been blown into the water off a ship or equipment on land. As of Oct. 9, no signs of pollution were spotted, as would be evidenced by oil sheens on the water.

The teamwork between the Coast Guard, Navy and Saipan's Emergency Management Office made the operation go smoothly. Coast Guard District 14 at Honolulu, Hawaii and Coast Guard Air Station Barber's Point also helped by dispatching C-130 aircraft to conduct additional fly-overs.

"We worked hand in hand with the Navy to ensure maritime safety," Buendia said.

Since 2007, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, has emphasized the importance of joint operations between the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy in his annual Guidances.


For more news from U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, visit www.navy.mil/local/guam/.

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