Coast Guard Training At Port of Catoosa

Wednesday, March 21st 2007, 9:17 pm
By: News On 6

The Coast Guard is in Green Country for a series of exercises. Members of the Lower Mississippi Sector of the Guard trained Wednesday at the Port of Catoosa. The Coast Guard doesn't find itself in Oklahoma much, but the Port of Catoosa is a federal waterway, and the News On 6’s Chris Wright reports the Guard says it needs to become familiar with the area in case there is an emergency.

"This is my first time in an inland unit,” said U.S. Coast Guard Ensign Austin Mitchell. “It's an educational experience for myself as well the public when they see us show up to an area like this."

If the Port is the target of a terrorist attack, if there is a chemical spill or other disaster, the Guard is responsible for handling it. Because of that responsibility, its members want to make sure they are familiar with the area. While they are here primarily for training purposes, the Coast Guard doesn't get an opportunity to come to the Tulsa area much, so it offered them an opportunity just to get to know the waterways better.

"We're up here to use that and also get the familiarization we need if we respond," said U.S. Coast Guard First Mate Levin Denham.

On Tuesday, training focused on 'man overboard drills' conducted from the Guard's Defender Class boats. Wednesday morning, the Lower Mississippi sector practiced search and rescue operations from its Dolphin helicopter. Since it does not visit Green Country often, The Coast Guard says it's crucial that it makes the most of its time here.

"We could be responding to a homeland security situation, it could be a credible threat we need to respond to," said Mitchell.

The Lower Mississippi Sector also met with local Coast Guard Auxiliary members. The Guard says the auxiliary has helped them to navigate the local waterways.