Boston’s first responders remember marathon bombings

A year ago today the Coast Guard led an unprecedented maritime response to the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon, one of the most significant terrorism incidents since 9/11. During the response, the Coast Guard joined federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure safety and security on the waterways.

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Written by Cmdr. Marc Knowlton and Lt. Whitney Griffin.

A year ago today the Coast Guard led an unprecedented maritime response to the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon, one of the most significant terrorism incidents since 9/11. During the response, the Coast Guard joined federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure safety and security on the waterways.

The City of Boston marked the anniversary with a tribute ceremony with more than 2,000 first responders, survivors and victims’ families, followed by a flag raising ceremony and moment of silence at the Boston Marathon finish line. Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh presided over the event. Lt. Cmdr. John Kousch, commanding officer of Maritime Safety and Security Team Boston; Chief Petty Officer Amy Petersen, officer-in-charge of Coast Guard Station Boston; and Petty Officer 2nd Class Damien Renzi, a member of Sector Boston’s vessel boarding and security team, joined Capt. John O’Connor, commander Sector Boston, who led the Coast Guard response to the Boston Marathon bombing.

Coast Guard Flyingfish, along with local, state and federal responders, sound their horns at 2:49 p.m. during a maritime observance. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class MyeongHi Clegg.
Coast Guard Flyingfish, along with local, state and federal responders, sound their horns at 2:49 p.m. during a maritime observance. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class MyeongHi Clegg.

“The Coast Guard’s unified response actions that day demonstrated the true essence of Semper Paratus,” said O’Connor. “After raising the MARSEC level in the port we had the flexibility, based on the availability of updated information to exercise restraint in a targeted response, creating an adaptive security package that provided a 24-hour security presence and 100 percent coverage of all passenger vessels on the waterway for the duration of the six-day long response. Our mission was clear, effectively eliminate the potential for the suspects to escape by, or carry out an additional attack upon, the area’s robust marine transportation system.”

“This tragedy tested the mettle of this community – and this community responded with courage, unity, and resolve,” added O’Connor. “Today I was honored to stand with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, representing the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard in paying tribute to the victims, survivors, their families and first responders. Together, they embodied what it means to be ‘Boston Strong.’”

In remembrance of the bombings, these maritime first responders participated in a waterside memorial marking the anniversary at the same time as the flag ceremony at the finish line on Boylston Street. More than 20 response vessels – including outlying communities – participated in the waterborne ceremony, sounding their horns in unison at exactly 2:49 p.m. to mark the time of the first explosion.

The units and personnel at both events were side-by-side at the remembrance just as they stood shoulder to shoulder during the response. Their collective efforts allowed for more than 600 ferry security boardings, 2,800 ferry passenger screenings and 350 patrol hours by boats and cutters to be conducted.

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