Coast Guard Begins Overflight, Port Assessments After Irma
SAN JUAN, P.R. — The Coast Guard has begun conducting overflight and port assessments of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, the service announced in a Sept. 7 release.
Capt. Eric King, commander of Sector San Juan and the incident commander, directed Coast Guard crews to conduct search and rescue flights to assist anyone potentially in distress post Irma, as well as conducting overflight and surface port assessments.
“Our first priority is ensuring safety of lives and helping anyone in distress,” said King. “Following that, reopening the ports is a top priority, but we have to make sure we also do it safely. Opening the port prematurely could create a situation for a greater risk or incident, which could ultimately result in an even longer port closure. We must ensure the port is clear of any obstructions and any significant damage to the port infrastructure from the storm that would prevent the flow of commercial commerce.”
The Coast Guard is coordinating with port partners to keep them apprised of the storm’s impacts and port condition changes.
“One of the top priorities, second only to life saving operations, is working with partner agencies to conduct port and waterway assessments to determine the impacts to the maritime transportation system,” King said.
Coast Guard assets conducting overflight and port assessments include two Air Station Borinquen MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews and Aids-to-Navigation Team San Juan 55-foot Aids-to-Navigation Boat crews.