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 33 of 102

31 Spring 2015 Proceedings Employed on maritime safety and security teams and the maritime security response team, divers added to the Coast Guard's robust terrorism prevention and response posture. Meanwhile, divers at other units were still used for ship's husbandry, aids to navigation, and cold-water diving. Tragedy Engenders Change The program remained a collateral duty until an unfortu- nate incident happened on Aug. 17, 2006, when LT Jessica Hill and BM2 Steven Duque attempted a cold-water dive off the CGC Healy, north of Barrow, Alaska. Their deaths launched a Congressional inquiry and a complete program- matic assessment that revolutionized the Coast Guard div- ing program. The frst step was eliminating diving as a collateral duty and creating the Coast Guard dive lockers under the Deployable Operations Group. As a result, in 2008, the dive program became standardized and members equipped and trained as a deployable specialized force with a focus on safety and training for high-risk operations. Then, in 2013, the Coast Guard created a new dive enlisted rating and chief warrant offcer specialty, which allowed members to focus on retaining competencies and profi- ciencies without being hindered by lack of advancement, because they were assigned out of their enlisted rate. Today, Coast Guard divers conduct missions that include ports, waterways, and coastal security, underwater ship's hus- bandry, aids to navigation, and cold-water diving. About the author: CDR JoAnne Hanson is the National Strike Force deputy commander and the U.S. Coast Guard National Strike Force Coordination Center's execu- tive offcer. She has enjoyed 11 years assigned to the National Strike Force, including service as AST operations offcer, NSF force manager at the Deployable Operations Group, PST executive offcer, and NSF Operations Offcer at the NSF Coordination Center. Bibliography: Guardian Spies, 2011. Retrieved from U.S. Coast Guard Diving Program: A history of Coast Guard diving operations. Captain of the Port, San Francisco, California. DC1 Dennis Perry In 1973, DC1 Dennis Perry transferred from the Navy to the Coast Guard. Perry was a Navy frst class diver and part of the experimental dive program. He was assigned to the Atlantic Strike Team NSF dive program, based in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, at that time. Tanker Response In spring 1974, a tank vessel grounded by the bow in the St. Lawrence River. The damaged tanker was releasing oil, and the AST deployed a response team. In addition to Perry, his teammate and friend, BM1 Frank Ellinwood, responded to the incident. Ellinwood was a newly graduated diver on his frst operational dive mission. DC1 Perry and LT Barry Chambers were performing a dive operation of a barge positioned next to the grounded tanker when tragedy struck. According to BM1 Ellinwood, when the divers surfaced, they appeared in distress. BM1 Ellinwood, who was standing at the ready, remembers moving to assist LT Chambers. LT Chambers immediately re-directed BM1 Ellin- wood to help DC1 Perry. Then, the situation took a fateful turn. DC1 Perry, who had surfaced briefly with LT Chambers, submerged. The divers raced to the other end of the barge, following his bubbles, as the rapid current dragged him the length of the barge. By the time BM1 Ellinwood and his dive partner entered the water, there was no sign of DC1 Perry. His body was never recovered. The Legacy Continues Following the Ex xon Valdez spill, the AST was re-established in 1991 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and the new AST building was dedicated to DC1 Perry. The National Strike Force has also established the DC1 Dennis Perry Enlisted Person of the Year award to recognize outstanding contributions and achievements by enlisted personnel at the three strike teams. The inaugural DC1 Perry Award recipient will be recognized for 2014 accomplishments. Dedication plaque for DC1 Perry at the Atlantic Strike Team. U.S. Coast Guard photo by LT Kristen Potter. Coast Guardsmen participate in a training exercise at Base Portsmouth. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Offcer Walter Shinn.

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