Coast Guard Foundation’s March 4 event to recognize heroism and mission excellence
The Coast Guard Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to the education and welfare of Coast Guard members and their families, announced today the details of its Annual Tribute to the 8th Coast Guard District. To be held on Friday, March 4 in New Orleans, Coast Guard Sector Mobile will be honored at the event for their skill and leadership in organizing a mass search and rescue operation on April 25, 2015. An unforeseen storm on that day struck Mobile Bay and nearby Mississippi Sound with tropical force winds and waves, grounding a 600-foot tanker and impacting the 117 sailboats participating in a race.
In total, more than 470 sailors and crew were in the Bay that afternoon as the storm whipped up with little warning, creating a chaotic scene as competitors scrambled to react. Coast Guard Sector Mobile quickly responded coordinating numerous assets and 34 local agencies to initiate 30 search and rescue cases in the affected area. Over the course of the next week, Sector Mobile displayed outstanding teamwork and mission excellence ensuring that approximately 10,000 square nautical miles and 149 miles of shoreline were searched, rescuing 40 people and saving $8.9 million in property.
“It is an honor to recognize Sector Mobile for their extraordinary skill and collaboration,” said Anne Brengle, president of the Coast Guard Foundation. “Their teamwork and coordination with dozens of local agencies and volunteers exemplifies the very best of our Coast Guard.”
Representing Sector Mobile is Deputy Incident Commander CAPT Joe Snowden who led the initial response efforts ensuring prompt action while maintaining the overall safety of those responding. Other sector members being honored include:
Sector Response Chief CDR Christopher Cederholm coordinated the overall search effort and tactics for all responding assets, expertly allocating assets for optimized search operations.
LTJG Phillip McNamara (ENS at the time) was on his first watch as Command Duty Officer the day of the storm. He quickly realized the situation, mandated first rescue actions, initiated the recall of personnel and requested any asset available to start searching.
OSCS Dan Schlangen was Command Duty Officer during the first day of the response operations. Using his vast and invaluable experience with SAR operations he coordinated tasking for the initial response. His leadership was key in maintaining effective response efforts throughout the critical event.
OS1 Chadwick Jackson was the first Operations Controller from Sector Mobile that arrived to the Command Center for augmenting the watch. His expertise and proficiency with SAR operations provided for expedited mission tasking.
OS2 Jason Bullis, Situation Unit watchstander during the storm, answered many distress calls. Most notably, he maintained communications over a satellite phone with a young woman, who along with her boat captain, had fallen overboard and were drifting in Mobile Bay. Petty Officer Bullis stayed on the phone for over an hour, keeping her calm as he gathered information on her surroundings and successfully vectored an Alabama Marine Resources asset to their location.
The 8th Coast Guard District, headquartered in New Orleans, covers parts of 26 states throughout the Gulf Coast. It stretches from the Appalachian Mountains and Chattahoochee River in the east, to the Rocky Mountains in the west, and from the border between the U.S. and Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border in North Dakota. Part of the Department of Homeland Security, the men and women of the 8th District are vital in protecting the 900 miles of coastline and 10,300 miles of inland navigable waterways located in their area of responsibility.