This story originally appeared at Coast Guard Great Lakes and was written by Lt. j.g. Brian Dykens, maritime security public information officer, 2012 NATO Summit.
Coast Guard units from around the country are partnering with other federal, state and local agencies on Chicago waterways to protect NATO Summit participants and the residents of Chicago.
The NATO Summit is a two-day event being held May 20th to May 21st.
Several thousand dignitaries are expected to converge on the city during the event to strengthen partnerships and discuss various topics related to NATO, along with several thousand members of the international press corps. Chicago is the first city in the United States outside of Washington, D.C., to host the NATO Summit.
Coast Guard units supporting Summit security have come to Chicago from as far away as the rainy city of Seattle and the sunny beaches of Miami. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock, a 225 foot buoy tender homeported in Port Huron, Mich., is also being utilized. Leading the way is Sector Lake Michigan in Milwaukee.
It took more than six months to plan, coordinate and organize a deployment of more than 400 Coast Guard active duty members, reservists and auxiliarists to the Windy City. Personnel participating include boat crews from throughout the Great Lakes and deployable specialized forces from maritime safety and security teams Seattle, Miami and Galveston. The Maritime Security and Response Team, a highly specialized resource with advanced counterterrorism skills and tactics, is also forward deployed.
“Units from throughout the 9th District and our deployable forces seamlessly integrated together since day one,” said Capt. Matthew Sibley, commander of Sector Lake Michigan. “Standardized training and small boats have been essential to mission execution.”
The Coast Guard, as lead federal agency in charge of maritime security, developed a comprehensive plan to patrol and enforce the waterways surrounding the city to provide safety and security for the summit. It includes 24-hour patrols along Chicago’s Lake Michigan coastline and throughout the Chicago River. The Coast Guard worked closely with commercial and recreational maritime partners to minimize disruptions during the event.
While events like this do not occur often, the Coast Guard conducts homeland security and ports, waterways and coastal security missions on a daily basis. The security mission entails the protection of the U.S. maritime domain and those who live, work or recreate near them; the prevention and disruption of terrorist attacks, sabotage, espionage or subversive acts; and response to and recovery from those that do occur.
Other involved partner agencies include: Bureau of Diplomatic Security; U.S. Department of Homeland Security; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Northern Command; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Attorney’s Office-Northern District of Illinois; Federal Aviation Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Federal Emergency Management Agency; Illinois National Guard; Illinois State Police; Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communication; Chicago Police Department; Chicago Fire Department.
“This is an integral operation and the Coast Guard is proud to provide security to the Summit participants and the residents of Chicago,” said Cmdr. Jerry Davenport, incident commander for the Coast Guard units involved with the summit. “The Coast Guard will continue to provide safety and security for the NATO Summit until May 22.”