Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Ameen.
When Hurricane Sandy made landfall late October in New Jersey, the damage left behind was unprecedented. New inlets were created, the shoreline shifted and entire houses were relocated. Millions were left without power; many became homeless.
In the wake of the storm, members from Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Kings Bay, Ga., deployed to support safety and security efforts due to mandatory evacuations. The 33-member deployable team, consisting of boat crews, engineers and support members, received notification Nov. 5 and traveled north to lend their expertise.
The team set up base at Station Barnegat Light, N.J., and was tasked with conducting patrols from the southern tip of Long Beach Island to the Point Pleasant Canal, which covers more than 40 miles. The boat crews worked with New Jersey State Police, as well as police from Toms River, Brick, Stafford, Bayhead, Lavallette and Mantoloking to ensure the safety and security of the areas under a mandatory evacuation notice.
“The ability of the unit to deploy a team on such short notice is testament to their readiness and overall willingness to assist those in need,” said Lt. j.g. Jason Harczak, MSST Kings Bay deployable team leader. “Luckily for the Kings Bay crews, they arrived just in time to hunker down through a nor’easter that brought heavy winds, rain and even a few inches of snow – a significant change for those accustomed to southeast Georgia’s considerably milder climate!”
Kings Bay’s crews worked closely with Philadelphia-based Sector Delaware Bay, as well as Station Barnegat Light, in conducting their patrols. Deployable team leader in-training Lt. j.g. Sharon Bishop discussed the logistics involved in deploying a 33-member team on such short notice.
“It was definitely a collaborative effort with everyone involved at the unit, Station Barnegat Light, Sector Delaware Bay, our planning staff and our command,” said Bishop. “Everyone was very helpful. It was a huge team effort, which shows how the Coast Guard is in general: it’s all teamwork.”
That level of teamwork is evident when looking at the docks at Station Barnegat Light. Where there are typically a few boats, there were several extras from all around Sector Delaware Bay and beyond for use in the post-Sandy response efforts. The MSST Kings Bay team arrived with a couple of its own 25-foot Response Boat-Smalls, but there were also boats from Station Cape May, Station Atlantic City and Station Manasquan Inlet ready to serve.
“I think it’s good we came up here to provide safety and security for the public who are still under mandatory evacuation,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody Schaffner, an MSST Kings Bay boatswain’s mate and coxswain. “I know we’re making a difference up here, and working with other government agencies has been a good experience. They’ve been very hospitable and professional, and teamwork is paramount in this situation.”