Personnel from Coast Guard Sector Juneau continue to conduct missions in Sitka with assistance from small boat teams from Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) Seattle from July through September.
Mission goals include search and rescue, recreational and commercial vessel safety, and the protection of Alaska’s fisheries.
The Coast Guard and partner agencies will continue to maintain a regular presence on the water and conduct boardings at sea with special safety procedures in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to deploying to Alaska, MSST personnel underwent one week of pre-deployment self-isolation followed by a COVID-19 test. Upon arrival to Sitka, they received a second COVID-19 test. After 14 days in a restricted movement status in Sitka, all tests came back negative and the team became fully operational on July 15, 2020.
Boarding safety precautions include MSST personnel wearing full personal protection equipment including masks and gloves. They determine COVID-19 exposure risks by asking a series of pre-boarding questions. Small vessel inspections are completed alongside the vessel, if possible, to maximize social distancing. MSST personnel report the majority of boaters have been compliant with safety and fishing regulations.
Additionally, MSST personnel conducted a search and rescue case in which they towed a vessel with its occupants aboard safely back to Sitka Harbor.
The Coast Guard is conducting these operations with Sitka Police Department and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.
“We are closely monitoring local COVID-19 trends and following all the latest CDC safety guidance as we continue to perform vital missions in Sitka,” said Capt. Stephen White, Sector Juneau Commander. “We are committed to ensuring the health and safety of the public and are working closely with our partner agencies to safely conduct critical operations while maintaining precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”