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14 Proceedings Spring 2015 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Furthermore, the plan proposed a national "reaction team," identifed the responsibilities for each signatory agency, 2 and named the on-scene commander as the executive agent who would direct pollution response activities. What the plan lacked, though, was statutory authority that specif- cally authorized agency responsibilities to implement the plan. Accidents Don't Wait Then, on January 28, 1969, a gas blowout occurred off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Although the blowout was sealed off by reinserting the drill pipe back into the well, oil began to seep out of natural faults below the ocean foor where the original blowout occurred. During the next few days, an estimated 30,000 barrels of oil escaped, produc- ing a massive oil slick. 3 The Coast Guard commander of Group Santa Barbara, designated as the on-scene commander, used the National Contingency Plan for the frst time to coordinate local, state, and federal agency response. Responding to the Santa Barbara incident, President Nixon tapped the director of the Executive Offce of the President's Offce of Science and Technology to develop a panel to inves- tigate the problem and make recommendations. At the same time, an avalanche of bills sprang up in Con- gress. By February 1969, there were a dozen bills concerning oil pollution pending before the House alone. While the House and the Senate were working on the various bills, another series of disasters occurred. A tanker grounded off the coast of Nova Scotia, a drilling platform exploded off New Orleans, and another tanker grounded in Tampa Bay. 4 In 1970, Congress enacted the National Oil and Hazard- ous Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), which superseded the 1968 National Multiagency Oil and Hazardous Material Contingency Plan. The new plan defned the term "hazard- ous substance" and mandated that strike forces respond to polluting spills. Since its inception in the early 1970s, the National Strike Force (NSF) has provided support for thousands of incidents throughout the world. It has evolved and continues to be a relevant and effective special team for U.S. Coast Guard federal on-scene coordinators (FOSCs), Environmental Pro- tection Agency (EPA) on-scene coordinators (OSCs), as well as a deployable specialized force for all federal incident com- manders during all-hazard responses. Today's National Strike Force draws on decades of experi- ence, from the U.S. government's actions to address oil spills in the 1970s, to hazardous material releases of the 1980s, incident management emergence in the 1990s, and today's weapons of mass destruction and consequence management realities. Oil Spills of the 1960s and 70s��� The Beginning In March of 1967, the Torrey Canyon ran aground in shallow waters off the coast of England. The vessel split, spilling an estimated 119,000 tons of crude oil into the English Chan- nel. 1 As a result, President Lyndon B. Johnson directed the secretaries of the Interior and Transportation to study our ability to respond to such disasters. The resultant report — Oil Pollution: A Report to the Pres- ident — concluded that the U.S. was not prepared to deal with a spill of this magnitude. Therefore, President Johnson tasked the secretary of Interior to develop multi-agency con- tingency plans for federal oil and hazardous materials spill response. On November 13, 1968, the president approved the National Multi-Agency Oil and Hazardous Materials Pollution Con- tingency Plan (National Contingency Plan), which coordi- nated federal, state, and local pollution incident response capabilities. The plan provided guidance to develop a sys- tem to prevent, discover, report, restrict, clean up, dispose of, and recover the cleanup costs for pollution incidents. From Oil to Anthrax The National Strike Force's long, messy history. by CDR KeitH M. donoHue Commanding Offcer Pacifc Strike Team History and Heritage