Deployment to South Korea: Security patrols

During Combined Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore Exercise, the Wheeler simulated providing fuel for the more than 1,200 personnel involved in the exercise by pumping water through the pipeline to large bladders on shore. These bladders would then be used to fuel military vehicles and equipment in a real-world scenario.

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This is the last in a three-part series highlighting the Coast Guard’s participation in one of the largest, international military exercises on the Korean peninsula, Combined Joint Logistics Over the Shore Exercise. This annual exercise was comprised of more than 1,200 U.S. military personnel from 43 commands working in conjunction with the Republic of Korea’s military forces.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jordan Gere and Petty Officer 2nd Class Carla Galland, both of Coast Guard Port Security Unit 313 talk during a security patrol off the coast of Dogu Beach U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.
Petty Officer 1st Class Jordan Gere and Petty Officer 2nd Class Carla Galland, both of Coast Guard Port Security Unit 313 talk during a security patrol off the coast of Dogu Beach U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.

Written by Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.

Through chilling winds and choppy seas five-man crews aboard small, gray security boats worked tirelessly for 10 days patrolling the waters around a massive 348-foot petroleum vessel near the coast of Pohang, South Korea.

Boat crews from Port Security Unit 313 worked night and day to enforce a safety zone around U.S. Naval Ship Vice Adm. K.R. Wheeler and an eight-mile submerged pipeline extending from the ship to the shores of Dogu Beach.

Marker buoys along a sunken pipeline stretch from Dogu Beach to merchant vessel Wheeler, stationed several miles off the coast, to simulate pumping fuel from an off-shore vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.
Marker buoys along a sunken pipeline stretch from Dogu Beach to merchant vessel Wheeler, stationed several miles off the coast, to simulate pumping fuel from an off-shore vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.

During Combined Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore Exercise, the Wheeler simulated providing fuel for the more than 1,200 personnel involved in the exercise by pumping water through the pipeline to large bladders on shore. These bladders would then be used to fuel military vehicles and equipment in a real-world scenario.

“We provided protection for the pipeline and prevented local fisherman from anchoring or dragging fishing nets across the pipe,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jordan Gere, a reservist for eight years who has been with PSU 313 for almost three years. “We overcame our biggest challenge, the language barrier, by incorporating Korean Augmentation to the United States Army personnel into our boat crews to serve as interpreters.”

The Korean Augmentation to the United States Army program provides the U.S. military with Korean-speaking soldiers, allowing greater military functionality and maneuverability. This exercise brings together U.S. military troops and Korean allies to build working relationships and enhance security and readiness on the Korean peninsula.

The crew of PSU 313 also provided 24-hour force protection on shore, side-by-side with Republic of Korea Military personnel during CJLOTS.

“Security teams ran entry control points alongside the Republic of Korea marines and navy,” said Gere. “Republic of Korea personnel helped with security and communication at the check points.”

In addition to language barriers, unpredictable weather conditions also proved challenging for PSU 313. Temperatures would fluctuate rapidly between 30 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The seas would be calm one minute with more than 8-foot swells the next, and winds gusted up to 50 miles-per-hour.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Demopoulos, center, references a nautical chart during a pre-mission brief for coxswains from Port Security Unit 313. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Demopoulos, center, references a nautical chart during a pre-mission brief for coxswains from Port Security Unit 313. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.

“Safety was always priority one,” said Cmdr. Daniel Clark, commanding officer of PSU 313. “In accordance with policy, the boat crews operated the [security boats] in a broad spectrum of weather conditions and identified some mechanical areas we need to improve. This was a good opportunity and a good environment to do that.”

During roving patrols on foot along Dogu Beach, security teams walked nearly three miles along the shore day and night, taking intermittent refuge in tents to keep warm. Shore-side security teams rotated watches through five different checkpoints, working closely with the Korean military.

“The Coast Guard provides security for ports across the United States,” said Rear Adm. Charles Ray, prospective Pacific Area deputy commander. “We’ve been doing this for over 200 years, and we’ve got a role to play here. The only way you develop the capability is to go do it. When our nation needs us, these guys will be ready.”

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