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Hurricane Katrina - Immediate Response & Long Term Challenges Joel Whitehead Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard Eighth District Commander. September 18, 2006. Key Topics. Summary of Coast Guard Katrina Response

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Hurricane Katrina -

Immediate Response &

Long Term Challenges

Joel Whitehead

Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard

Eighth District Commander

September 18, 2006


Key Topics

Summary of Coast Guard Katrina Response

Managing Risk in Areas Supplying Response Assets to Incidents of National Significance

Maritime Recovery Initiatives

Development of a Coast Guard Deployable Operations Group (DOG)


Evacuated Command & Control Node

Temporary Command & Control Node

Mission Preparedness

Atlantic Area

District 8

St. Louis, MO

Sector Mobile

Maxwell AFB, AL

Sector New Orleans

Alexandria, LA

Sector Mobile

District 8

Sector New Orleans

Supporting Air Stations



Initial Response

  • Saving lives in distress first priority
    • First rescues made at sea and on land as the storm was still coming ashore
  • Pre-positioned air and sea assets around perimeter of Katrina’s projected destruction zone
  • Rapidly surged additional assets to affected zone after landfall

Summary of Response Forces

Forces assisting in SAR and environmental response (not all inclusive):

  • DHS:
    • USCG: 3,900 active and reserve personnel
    • CBP: 500 personnel & 20 fixed/rotary wing aircraft
    • ICE: 725 personnel
    • FEMA: 87 National Disaster Medical System Teams & 23 Urban SAR Teams
  • FBI: Provided rescue boats
  • DoD: Aircraft, troops, ships, salvage, command/control & logistics support
  • Forest Service
  • National Guard: Deployed 50,000 troops
  • State/Local:

- NOLA police/fire/emergency, LA State police & Ramsey County Sheriff

- Firefighters/emergency workers from various States


Managing Risk in Areas Supplying Response Assets to Incidents of National Significance


National Response Posture Affected

Search and Rescue:

  • Nationwide deepwater & coastal zone missions impacted
  • National response readiness degraded
    • Canada covered NW Atlantic search and rescue
  • All aviation training flights deferred until completion of Katrina response
national response posture affected
National Response Posture Affected

Environmental Response:

  • National Strike Force Teams provided assets from around the country
  • Commercial pollution response personnel and equipment deployed to support Katrina & Rita cleanups
  • Certain facilities in unaffected areas forced to reduce transfer operations due to lack of resources from their contract Oil Spill Removal Organizations (OSROs)
osro policy currently under revision
OSRO Policy Currently Under Revision
  • Coast Guard exploring options to address pollution response shortfalls when resources are responding to Spills or Incidents of National Significance.
  • Possible alternatives include:
    • Allowing companies to temporarily contract with alternate OSROs
    • Temporarily relaxing equipment requirements for low probability events (e.g. worst case or maximum probable discharge scenarios)
    • Expand Coast Guard’s role to include strategic placement of available response resources when shortages are identified
    • In extreme cases where commercial coverage is not available, the Coast Guard may direct its own remaining assets to act as an alternate OSRO

Coast Guard Katrina Priorities

  • Save and Sustain Lives
  • Secure and Restore Ports, Waterways & Infrastructure
  • Oil, Chemical and Hazardous Material Response
  • Sustain Coast Guard Operations
damage to offshore facilities
Damage to Offshore Facilities







GICW closed from Sabine Pass to the LMR

New Orleans

Lake Charles

Houston Ship Channel open to 35ft, daylight only

Morgan City

Port Arthur


Freeport, open to

28 ft, daylight only


Port O’Connor

GICW open from Freeport to Brownsville




USACE, NOAA, and Kirby Marine coordinating major port surveys & the GICW

Restricted, but



Closed, or

Substantially impacted

As of 26 Sep 05

ports waterways infrastructure
Ports, Waterways, & Infrastructure
  • Katrina aftermath exposed need for integrated government and industry recovery plan
  • Lack of communications led to additional incidents during restoration phase
  • Implications of port closures not fully understood
  • Alternate paths for cargo flow not identified in advance
actions to improve recovery
Actions to Improve Recovery
  • Coast Guard held 1st National Maritime Recovery Symposium in August 2006
  • Need for several initiatives identified:
    • Integrated government / industry recovery management org
    • Integrated government / industry communications system for recovery
    • National Logistics Support Plan for cargo diversion during a national emergency
    • Integrated government / industry Business Continuity Planning System
    • Funding mechanism to support local, state, and national recovery preparedness
    • Raised awareness of interconnection / interdependency of ports with the national transportation system.
actions to improve recovery cont
Actions to Improve Recovery (cont)
  • Commence meetings with members of the Business Roundtable (Fortune 200) to further explore concepts for recovery and restoration coordination.
  • Lead the coordination with industry to form a Maritime Sector Coordinating Council
  • Capitalize on existing forums and partner with other DHS agencies to develop a maritime concept of operations.
deployable operations group dog
Deployable Operations Group (DOG)
  • Developing deployable command to supplement existing shore and deepwater assets
  • First command will stand up in summer of 2007
  • Deployable forces will include security, law enforcement, and environmental responders