Features / Japan / Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni / News Stories

Harbor operations stay ready, prepared

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MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan-Seaman Apprentice Ronald Brewer (left) and Petty Officer 1st Class George Payumo (center) observe harbor operations in order to keep the station safe and ready for any situation. The Harbor Operations Division aboard the air station is a small team made up of Navy personnel who are experts in communication, safety and operational risk management.

The boathouse is made up of boatswain’s mates, electricians and engineers, all of whom are vital to harbor operations.

“Boatswain’s mates are specialized in line handling, preserving and operating the boats,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Kenneth Thomas, an electrician with Harbor Operations. “The engine men fix engines and do mechanical work. If one of the boats were to break down, someone would call upon me or one of the other electricians here to fix it.”

Even though the boathouse is made up of personnel with specialty rates and specific skills, all personnel undergo training to learn basic knowledge of harbor operations and security.

“Everyone here learns how to drive the boats, handle boom and operate equipment on each boat,” said Thomas. “We all work together, know and do a little bit of the same work.”

The boathouse has alternating first response teams divided into several sections designated to respond to any intrusion, incident or emergency that may happen day or night, which provides the harbor with constant surveillance and supervision.

The Harbor Operations Division also coordinates with the Provost Marshal’s Office when performing security operations in the harbor.

“We do three patrols a day and one with PMO,” said Thomas. “Anything that enters or exits the harbor, we keep watch on and maintain communication with PMO.”

All personnel in the Harbor Operations Division conduct required annual facility response training, to include man-overboard drills, oil spill response and anti-terrorism force protection to test their skill and readiness.

“We perform drills constantly,” said Seaman Apprentice Jayson Goodwin, boatswain’s mate with harbor operations division. “We have these situations under control.”

Personnel at the boathouse also work hand in hand with the environmental department, the station fire department, and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force during exercises and operations.

“We know how to take care of oil spills and fuel spills very well,” said Goodwin. “If any spill gets into the harbor whether it’s an oil or hydraulic fluid spill, they go into action to contain it and clean it up,” said Melanie Bengtson, environmental director here.

The environmental department maintains joint operations and support for the harbor by providing much of the necessary equipment vital to carrying out an oil spill response.

“We provide some of the oil containment boom they use to clean up the spills,” said Bengtson. “It’s basically a barrier they can put out in the water to keep the spill from moving out of the harbor.”

Harbor operations maintains correspondence with the station fire department and PMO to conduct man overboard drills.

The drills were in preparation for the station’s annual Friendship Day as well as to prepare any man for an overboard situation that may occur, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jared Westbrooks, a boatswain’s mate with
Harbor operations.

Boathouse personnel prepare themselves to be the first responders to any falls into the harbor by rushing to get them out.

When such a situation occurs, personnel designated to watch from the boathouse immediately respond by calling the emergency communication center here for assistance.

The station fire department then responds by sending search and rescue divers to retrieve and assist the casualty with medical attention.

Each occupation, from the boatswain’s mates to the electricians and engineers, is significant conservation, maintenance and management of the harbor.

Harbor perations require planned coordination between each crew member, support unit to remain prepared.

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