Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Promoting Safe Operations—recreational boating on the Western Rivers

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard “Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council” magazine. By LT Steven Peelish, LTJG Brandon Guldseth, and LT Michael Anderson, U.S. Coast Guard.

Although the majority of recreational boating safety enforcement is covered by state governments, the U.S. Coast Guard remains an active partner for recreational boating safety on the Western Rivers. From fielding search and rescue (SAR) calls to providing boating safety instruction, the Coast Guard continually strives to ensure that the boating public is well informed and protected in this ever-changing, unique environment.

Due to its limited resources, the Coast Guard on the Western Rivers has a special working relationship with other government agencies, civilian police, and fire departments when conducting SAR operations. If a Coast Guard vessel is not in the area, the sector communication centers will notify the nearest civilian resource of the vessel in distress and ask if it is available to respond.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is also tasked with SAR when active duty Coast Guard personnel are not available.

Law Enforcement Efforts
One of the major “hot spots” along the Missouri River is the Lake of the Ozarks, a 54,000-acre lake with more than 1,150 miles of shoreline, considered one of the most dangerous recreational boating locations in the United States.

Another major concern on the Western Rivers is close proximity. On August 25, 2005, a houseboat operating at night in Cincinnati, Ohio, with no navigation lights was struck by a towboat, killing four people. LT Mike Fields of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife stated, “It’s common for recreational boats to get into trouble on the Ohio River with commercial barge traffic. In an urban environment, large vessels tend to blend in with the surrounding area. Due to the slow, steady movement of the barges, it can be difficult to notice them—particularly at night. In the Cincinnati area, barge lights are difficult to distinguish due to background lighting from the city.”

Safety and Security Team
To promote boating safety on the Western Rivers, Mr. Kevin Kelly, District Eight’s recreational boating safety manager, created the boating safety and security team.

The team travels throughout District Eight’s area of responsibility, conducting vessel boating safety boardings on recreational boats. The team is comprised of a group of selected Coast Guard Reserve members with law enforcement backgrounds, and typically performs missions during the busiest holiday seasons like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day weekends.

Sector Ohio Valley’s field intelligence support team, which pre-deploys to a location and meets with the local law enforcement agency, is also a welcomed resource. The field intelligence support team gains valuable insight into the trouble spots, develops a geographic partnership, and plans out the best place to be plugged into the boating safety operation. This effort helps locals to target boating safety patrols and provides an additional federal resource for “boating under the influence” enforcement.

About the authors:
LT Steven Peelish is a former BM1. With three marine safety unit river tours, he has acquired a vast knowledge base of marine safety and security on the Western Rivers.

LTJG Brandon Guldseth has served in both the Air National Guard and the Coast Guard. He has operated ground radars to train Air Force fighter pilots to evade surface-to-air missiles and weapons systems and piloted small boats in the U.S. Coast Guard for search and rescue and law enforcement.

LT Michael Anderson served as a helicopter rescue swimmer prior to attending Officer Candidate School in 1998. Since completing OCS, he has completed a joint staff and two tours in the marine safety field. He holds a Master of Science degree in business ethics from Duquesne University.

For more information:
Full article and “U.S. Coast Guard Western Rivers Sectors” edition of USCG Proceedings is available at www.uscg.mil/proceedings. Click on “archives” and then “2007-08 Vol. 64, Number 4” (Winter 2007-08).

Subscribe online at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/subscribe.asp.

Online survey available at: http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/survey.asp.

Direct requests for print copies of this edition to: HQS-DG-NMCProceedings@uscg.mil.