Coast Guard, federal, local responders and the maritime industry to conduct full-scale area maritime security exercise in Puerto Rico

December 5, 2014

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard, in cooperation with responders from more than 26 federal, state, local agencies and industry organizations, will conduct a full-scale area maritime security exercise from 9 to 11 December in San Juan and Ponce, Puerto Rico.

The exercise, named Operation Caribbean Breeze, is part of the nationwide Area Maritime Security Training Exercise Program (AMSTEP). 

There is no cause for public alarm due to the actual deployment of operational assets in the area. Participating agencies will be deploying operational assets as part of the exercise Tuesday and Wednesday in the San Juan port area between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and Thursday in the Ponce port area between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

This full-scale exercise is being conducted to test the effectiveness of the Area Maritime Security Plan drafted by federal, state and local agencies and industry representatives as the framework for how to respond to port-wide security incidents in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

During the first and second days of the exercise, Operation Caribbean Breeze will bring emergency response agencies and industry responders together at Coast Guard Sector San Juan and the Horizon Lines, Inc. port facility in San Juan to interface and test their ability to respond to a maritime transportation security threat in the area.  The last day of the exercise will take place at the Port of Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Agencies will focus primarily on their ability to alert, mobilize and activate personnel, facilities and resources for an emergency response, test their communications, and establish an Incident Command and Unified Command structure to coordinate interagency response operations.

The Coast Guard recognizes that providing maritime security in the Caribbean region requires the close coordination of area responders. The scenario involved in this full-scale exercise will challenge participants to make difficult decisions, carry out essential functions and maintain a common operating picture during a port security incident. Interagency coordination and communication will play key roles in the exercise’s success, as well as enhance readiness for future incidents.

Participating agencies and industry organizations will include Department of Homeland Security,  Coast Guard Sector San Juan, Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Federal Emergency Management Agency,  Customs and Border Protection, Puerto Rico National Guard 22nd Civil Support Team, Puerto Rico Center for Disease Control San Juan Station, Transportation Security Administration, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Area Maritime Security Committee, US Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency Fusion Center, North and South Coast Harbor Safety and Security Committees, Salvation Army, Puerto Rico Ports Authority, Municipality of Ponce, Ponce Police Department, Puerto Rico Fire Department, Puerto Rico State Emergency and Disaster Management Agency, Ponce Office of Emergency Management,  Luis Ayala Colon Inc., Total Petroleum, Puma Energy, Sea Star, Horizon Lines, Inc. and BT Asphalt.