Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Anderson.
For more than two decades, Coast Guard port security units have deployed throughout the world and provided security for personnel and supplies needed for Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Uphold Democracy, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, New Dawn and Unified Response. PSU members have also mobilized across the continental United States following Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina.
During each of these deployments, the security units’ watercraft was the legacy 25-foot Transportable Port Security Boat. But there’s a new, more capable asset on the horizon and PSU 311 welcomed the replacement during their current deployment at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.
Two new 32-foot Transportable Port Security Boats arrived at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay for their first operational deployment, after a 2,800-mile journey from Long Beach, Calif., aboard a Dover, Del., based Air Force C-17.
“The new TPSB greatly enhances our ability to protect and defend the maritime domain of the naval station and support Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay,” said Cmdr. John M. Caraballo, PSU 311’s commanding officer. “I am extremely proud of the exemplary performance of the crew during the TPSB delivery and their work as they integrate it to our ongoing operations.”
Boosting the Coast Guard’s capabilities during security, law enforcement and national defense missions, the new security boat is capable of speeds greater than 40 knots and can be armed with .50 caliber and M240 machine guns as well as armor plating for crew protection.
Shock mitigation seats and better stability in heavy seas, due to the larger streamed-lined hull, improves crew endurance and enhances the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out its underway missions.
The security boat also strengthens crew coordination with integrated communication headsets allowing crews to speak to each other over the roar of the engines, weapons fire and inclement weather. The communications system is also fully capable of operating with existing Coast Guard assets along with those of our partners in the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense.
After arriving at the naval station, both boats were transported to the engineering bay where a rigorous ready for operations check was conducted – engines, navigation equipment, safety gear, gun mounts and communications all underwent a thorough hands on inspection.
Similar inspections and regular maintenance cycles by the engineering crews have kept the legacy TPSB in good operating condition for more than 20 years. This initial deployment inspection was just one facet of a maintenance plan that will keep these new boats operational throughout their life cycle.
“Our goal as Coast Guard engineers is more than checking off a maintenance schedule,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Humberto Medina, a machinery technician. “We double and triple check everything to ensure our boat crews and every follow on crew can rely on the platform and complete the mission.”
After completing all the required checks, the boats were test launched at boat ramps throughout the naval station. They were then splashed and an operational test cycle was started that included power trials to ensure the boats were in working at full capacity before conducting security operations to support Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay.