Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2015

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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Page 32 of 102

30 Proceedings Spring 2015 When the National Strike Force (NSF) was established in 1973, its primary mission was response to pollution in the maritime environment. Those early years of the NSF pre- dated double-hull requirements and spill response plans, and none of the expansive privatized response assets avail- able today were yet in existence. As a new facet to Coast Guard operations, each strike team was staffed with boatswains mates, damage controlmen, machinery technicians, storekeepers, and yeomen, plus an assortment of command cadre offcers. And, as strike team operations were new to this eclectic crew, one of the collat- eral duties was dive qualifcation. These members attended U.S. Navy dive training and com- bined this skill with their pollution response training to provide the on-scene coordinator with a complete report on vessel damage and mitigation options. All NSF divers were assigned to the Atlantic Strike Team (AST), but deployed nationwide to support NSF operations that required the capability. Frogmen, Guardians, Spies Prior to NSF creation, divers had a varied and somewhat obscure history in the Coast Guard. Dating back to World War II, Coast Guard divers trained as "frogmen," charged with reconnaissance, underwater infltration, subterfuge, and other covert operations. This program evolved into the Central Intelligence Agency's covert operations, the U.S. Navy SEALS, and the Special Operations Command. At the end of World War II, the Coast Guard's focus shifted back to domestic operations, and divers deployed to con- duct vessel inspections, buoy recovery, and sunken vessel and aircraft surveys. During the height of the Cold War, they engaged in security missions (returning to their World War II roots) and conducted underwater inspections on all vessels arriving from communist nations. NSF Dive Program Disbanded In 1987, shortly before the Atlantic Strike Team was dises- tablished, the National Strike Force dive program was also disbanded. Despite its short history, there are two notable facts about the NSF dive program. First, DC1 Perry (see sidebar) represents the only fatality in the 40-plus-year history of all NSF operations, which includes hazardous materials, oil spill, and weapons of mass destruction missions in environments from the tropics to the Arctic. Second, the AST claims the Coast Guard's frst female diver — BM1 Linda Munoz, assigned in 1984. The Mission Continues While divers are no longer part of the NSF capability, the program remained a vital part of Coast Guard operations. Continued as a collateral duty, the program evolved in a post-9/11 world to include underwater pier security as part of the anti-terrorism mission. Fathoms Below The Coast Guard NSF Dive Program. by cdr JoAnne HAnSon Deputy Commander National Strike Force U.S. Coast Guard National Strike Force Coordination Center History and Heritage A diver signals how much air he has remaining after completing hull inspection. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Offcer Michael Anderson.

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