U.S. Coast Guard Sector Columbia River's Area Maritime Security Committee (AMSC) has approved a $2.7 million Port Security Grant Program project to purchase three Regional Response Vessels with firefighting capability for the lower Columbia River.
The acquisition of these vessels is the culmination of a two-year project to identify marine firefighting vulnerabilities in the Columbia River system and address them through federal grant programs.
Astoria will receive a 35-foot vessel that will be operated by the Astoria Fire Department. The other two boats, 35-feet and 45-feet, will be based in the Vancouver, Wash., port area. Both Astoria and Vancouver port authorities have committed their organizations to maintain and sustain the response vessels for the benefit of the entire river system. Additionally, the new boats will help the Coast Guard in patrolling the ports and responding quickly to a variety of threats. The vessels are expected to be in place by early 2013.
The AMSC includes key maritime stakeholders from Oregon, Washington and Idaho established by Congress to assist the Coast Guard Captain of the Port in ensuring safe and secure marine transportation and commerce. Committee actions are undertaken on behalf of the USCG and the general public, rather than any private entity or individual.
"This funding decision reflects our belief that safety and security are shared responsibilities, and that we can best protect the vital economic engine of the Columbia River system when the private sector and local, state and federal government work together," said Coast Guard Captain Bruce Jones, Captain of the Port for Sector Columbia River. "I applaud our port partners for their comprehensive approach to managing risk and wisely spending scarce grant funds in support of our mutual goals."
The AMSC also approved a $1.9 million Port Security Grant for a vessel tracking system focused on the Columbia and Snake River system. This system will integrate with and extend the vessel tracking system already in place between the mouth of the Columbia River and the Portland/Vancouver area, upriver to Lewiston, Idaho. Until now, lack of resources and challenging topography have severely limited vessel traffic reporting in this area. The Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and all entities having an interest in river commerce or incident response will benefit from a greater awareness of where ships, tugs and barges are at any given moment.
April 3, 2012