HONOLULU — The U.S. Coast Guard, Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services, and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources conducted a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Honolulu, Sept. 27, 2023.
“The exercise improved interagency cohesion between organizations and first responders with one goal in common, saving lives. Continuing to work and understand each other’s capabilities is paramount in overcoming challenges that might be faced,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Austin Bayless, the training petty officer for U.S. Coast Guard Station Honolulu. “We look forward to working with these agencies in the future and continuing to uphold our search and rescue posture."
The two-day exercise took place on the water and in the air off Magic Island with Coast Guard and local agencies working together to test and evaluate interagency communications, response plans, and responders’ actions during a simulated scenario involving missing mariners.
During the search and rescue exercise, Oscar mannequins equipped with orange data buoy markers were deployed to simulate missing individuals in the water. Once notified of the persons in the water, multiple agencies deployed assets and coordinated a joint rescue response.
Assets involved in this SAREX:
• U.S. Coast Guard District 14 Command Center personnel
• U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center personnel
• U.S. Coast Guard Station Honolulu 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew
• U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point Dolphin helicopter aircrew
• U.S. Navy HSM-37 helicopter aircrew
• Honolulu Fire Department’s Air 1 helicopter aircrew and rescue boat crew
• Honolulu Fire Department Drone crew
• Honolulu Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Jet-ski operators
• Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Jet-ski operators
• Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources rescue boat crew
Coast Guard Sector Honolulu personnel conduct joint agency SAREXs annually throughout the Hawaiian Islands. These exercises are designed to evaluate notification and response procedures, identify shortfalls in communication, and coordination of response during search and rescue incidents. Every agency provides capabilities that complement the other's efforts and bolsters the overall success of the search and rescue system. Familiarity with processes and the people involved are critical to success.
The goals of the Coast Guard search and rescue program are to minimize loss of life, injury, and property loss and damage in the maritime environment, minimize the risk to responders, optimize the use of resources, and remain a world leader in maritime search and readiness subject matter expertise and effectiveness.