USCG Cutter Sequoia Conducts SAREX in Chuuk
Last Updated on Sunday, 10 June 2012 15:21
Written by News Release
Sunday, 10 June 2012 15:14
Guam News –
Guam – USCGC Sequoia completed a week long international search rescue exercise (SAREX) that involved coordinated efforts between Coast Guard District 14, Coast Guard Sector Guam, and Chuuk.
SEQUOIA participated in the mock scenario by deploying a skiff to simulate the panga boats that are commonly used in the South Pacific and subjects of genuine South Pacific SAR cases.
Scientists, Dr. Art Allen, LT Victoria Futch, and Mr. Ben Brushett collected leeway drift data from skiffs and other small watercraft on board SEQUOIA as well.
Deemed the Manaw SAREX, this scenario consisted of a simulated 19 foot skiff with two people on board that drifted for two days west of Chuuk until reported overdue. The deployed watercraft provided position data which was used to compare to the position predicted by the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System (SAROPS) software. SAROPS predicts the drift of common SAR objects and optimizes the utilization of Coast Guard resources and assets to find those objects. Using 51 Coast Guard operational centers, data collection for SAROPS has been compiled from all around the United States, Canada, and Norway, and now the South Pacific.
This latest focus on the South Pacific is increasingly important for the Coast Guard, as Dr. Art Allen laments: “Simply, no matter how effective you search, if you are searching the wrong location you will not find the survivors.” SAR missions occur roughly five times a year around Chuuk and the surrounding atolls, costing the Coast Guard approximately one million dollars per case.
Dr. Allen further explains that every step of the SAR process for operations in the South Pacific inherently costs precious time to find the survivors: “When local authorities are notified after 24 hours and the Coast Guard is notified 24 hours after that, to send a C-130 from Barbers Point it might take another 24-48 hours to get to this region…there might
be already 4-5 days of drift. Reducing any uncertainty is critical.”
Therefore, SAREXs like the Manaw SAREX provide crucial data which improves drift predictions, saving money and the increasing the chance of survival for the victims.
Dr. Allen, LT Futch, and Mr. Brushett all foresee increased SAREXs in the future and contribute the success of the exercise to the indispensible functions and capabilities of SEQUOIA as well as the experience, motivation, and support of the SEQUOIA crew. The true importance and reliability of leeway drift data and the Manaw SAREX ultimately proved itself. While SEQUOIA was in Chuuk, Sector Guam Command Center notified SEQUOIA of an overdue vessel. Using the data gathered on SEQUOIA, an updated drift pattern was generated which led a C-130 to successfully pinpoint the location of the stranded panga craft on its first pass.
SEQUOIA, homeported in Apra Harbor, Guam, is manned by a crew of seven officers and 37 enlisted personnel. It is the 15th Juniper Class sea-going buoy tender and the 10th “B-Class” cutter built by Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wisc. Sequoia’s primary missions are maintaining aids to navigation, homeland security, law enforcement, marine environmental protection and search and rescue.
It is 225-feet long with twin diesel engine propulsion, bow and stern thrusters and advanced maneuverability capabilities that make it the world’s premier buoy-tending platform.
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