Over two days, the Port of Corpus Christi and the United States Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi came together on Friday to conduct Port CC Prepared 2023. This comprehensive exercise aimed to bolster maritime readiness and response capabilities.
The exercise brought together the combined efforts of over fifty federal, state, and local agencies and organizations at the entrance to the Inner Harbor of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. The participating crews conducted a full-scale response assessment, simulating the actions required during emergencies.
Clark Robertson, the Chief Operating Officer of the Port of Corpus Christi, described the operation as one of the most intricate exercises crews could have successfully executed. He identified two pivotal dimensions for improvement across all agencies involved.
“When events of this nature occur, they hinge greatly upon cooperation and communication,” emphasized Robertson. “It entails collaboration among diverse agencies tasked with response, encompassing communication protocols and the efficacy of inter-party communication—these emerge as arguably the most crucial factors.”
Numerous community volunteers took part in the rescue response teams. The simulation scenario featured a collision between a harbor tour vessel and a commercial barge, resulting in a fire and the subsequent sinking of the tour boat.
Given the increasing frequency of rescue operations nationwide, the Coast Guard emphasized the importance of maintaining constant vigilance regarding the rapid fluctuations that environments can undergo in seconds.
“As the operational landscape of the port evolves, it becomes imperative to assess our contingency plans and available resources. Regularly subjecting these capabilities to testing ensures alignment between our planned actions and our actual performance on the water,” noted Captain Jason Gunning, U.S. Coast Guard Commander of Sector Corpus Christi.
The genesis of the training exercise dates back to 2020, with crews commencing active preparation eight months prior. This initiative is just one of several proactive measures to uphold waterway security.
“In the absence of training and practice, our readiness for real-life scenarios diminishes,” commented Robertson. “Without preparation, we simply won’t be adequately poised for genuine emergencies.”
The collective aspiration of these agencies is to save lives and ensure uninterrupted safety for the community.