Hurricane Prep, Force Surge Top Commandant’s Gulf Coast Trip Agenda

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Lt. Matthew Nakagawa briefs Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., Coast Guard commandant, on continuing operations in regard to buoy tenders returning to and departing to skim oil for the Deepwater Horizon response at the Naval Air Station Pensacola pier. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Walter Shinn)
Lt. Matthew Nakagawa briefs Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., Coast Guard commandant, on continuing operations in regard to buoy tenders returning to and departing to skim oil for the Deepwater Horizon response at the Naval Air Station Pensacola pier. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Walter Shinn)

Posted on behalf of Admiral Bob Papp:

Shipmates,

I just returned from my third trip to the Gulf Coast. The focus of this trip was on hurricane preparations and the expanding number of Coast Guard forces deployed to maintain the ongoing Deepwater Horizon response.

Admiral Bob Papp poses with a group of Coast Guard Auxiliary members in front of and Auxiliary boat at Station Pensacola on the Auxiliary’s 71st anniversary Wednesday.  The Auxiliary actively supports the Coast Guard in performance of its duties, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response effort. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Admiral Bob Papp poses with a group of Coast Guard Auxiliary members in front of an Auxiliary boat at Station Pensacola on the Auxiliary’s 71st anniversary Wednesday. The Auxiliary actively supports the Coast Guard in performance of its duties, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response effort. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

I spent Tuesday at the Unified Area Command in New Orleans. I am impressed by the effective and coordinated response efforts. These efforts stretch across the coastlines of four states and encompass a water area the size of South Carolina. Significant hurricane planning is also underway. While I was the Atlantic Area commander between 2008 and 2010, I had 30 named storms move through my area of responsibility, many of those in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, making sure we are ready for a hurricane is one of my top priorities. I concluded the day with my first Chief’s Call and recognition for some of our stellar junior personnel that have been mentored by the chiefs.

Yesterday, I focused on our forces. I visited five buoy tenders at Naval Air Station Pensacola: Aspen, Cypress, Juniper, Walnut and Joshua Appleby . These ships, hailing from as far away as Honolulu, San Francisco and Newport, reflect our “all-hands-on-deck” commitment to this response. The decks of these ships, which are normally loaded with buoys, are now filled with oil skimming equipment. These crews’ efforts are making a difference. Shortly after my visit, Cypress and Juniper got underway to rejoin other cutters engaged in skimming operations.

SNPA Grace Baldwin receives a Commandant’s coin from Admiral Bob Papp at Unified Area Command New Orleans. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
SNPA Grace Baldwin receives a Commandant’s coin from Admiral Bob Papp at Unified Area Command New Orleans. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

I also overflew the spill site. Since my last over flight in June, I could see that oil collection efforts have intensified and our hard work is beginning to pay off, though we still have many days of hard work ahead. I was particularly encouraged to see a large number of skimmers operating, most of which were “Vessels of Opportunity,” or VOOs. VOOs are commercially and privately owned vessels grouped and organized by the Coast Guard. Using the latest surveillance, VOOs are sent to attack the most prominent and threatening areas of the spill.

During this trip, I had a Fox National News crew traveling with me. You can click here to view a post they uploaded today. I also recorded a message to all Deepwater Horizon responders, which is available here.

I am honored to represent the thousands of Coast Guard men and women doing amazing work to help restore a way of life for the people of the Gulf Coast. Keep up the great work. Take care of your shipmates.

Semper Paratus,

Admiral Bob Papp

Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., Coast Guard commandant, visits crew members aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Walter Shinn)
Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., Coast Guard commandant, visits crew members aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Walter Shinn)

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