Boston is uniquely a maritime city, steeped in maritime heritage. Joshua James is credited with saving more than 600 lives as a lifesaver for the Massachusetts Humane Society and the U.S. Life-Saving Service; Boston is the homeport of the USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat; and Boston is indeed the cradle of the American Revolution. As Bostonians looked to celebrate their historic past on Patriot’s Day, and welcome the world with open arms to cheer on runners of the 117th Boston Marathon, Maritime Safety and Security Team Boston stood on guard. Designated as Coast Guard Atlantic Area’s “go-team,” poised to respond to any incident within six-hours, Lt. j.g. Alicia Flanagan was at the ready when the senseless attacks on the Boston Marathon occurred.
Flanagan, who reported to Boston nine months ago, responded to the attacks by reporting to the Sector Boston command center and establishing a critical pathway of support to the sector commander. As deployable team leader, Flanagan is the primary coordinator for the safety and security team’s assets assigned to Sector Boston. As Station Boston launched two 25-foot small boats, Flanagan recalled MSST Boston’s “go-team” and launched four small boats to immediately begin protecting Boston Harbor. “This is why MSSTs exist; a force multiplier to support operational commanders in a time of need,” said Flanagan. Adding, it was “truly a team effort” when both MSST Boston and New York responded to protect the port.
Both maritime safety and security teams Boston and New York dispatched their maritime law enforcement and force protection teams, who were on a 24-hour recall status. The teams were on the water within four hours of Flanagan recalling them from fast rope training on Cape Cod. “The seamless integration of MSST Boston and MSST New York forces into the sector’s incident action plan was exceptional.” said Flanagan. “Working with Sector Boston’s boarding team, Coast Guard Cutter Grand Isle and Station Boston was extremely rewarding.” Indeed, despite a seemingly endless barrage of conflicting information, Flanagan kept her focus on executing the mission. “With protecting the president after arriving on short notice, ensuring 100 percent law enforcement presence on commuter ferries and maintaining a continuous on-water presence in the harbor, I realized just how dynamic and adaptable the Coast Guard is,” said Flanagan.
Within the first 72 hours, MSST Boston and elements of MSST New York provided Sector Boston with 86 harbor security patrol hours, completed 115 commuter ferry security boardings, screened more than 2,800 passengers, conducted three deep draft vessel boardings, accomplished 10 hours of remote operated vehicle pier sweeps and examined more than 1,280 bags with a canine explosives detection team. The teams weren’t worried about counting hours and boardings though; they were there to help Boston regain a sense of security and safety. As Flanagan continues to coordinate waterborne security and boarding team support to Sector Boston, she took a moment to reflect on the day of the attack. “Monday was a historic and tragic day. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families impacted by the explosions. We will maintain our Sector Boston support to provide increased maritime security measures, in lock-step with state and local agencies, to help get Boston back on its feet again,” said Flanagan.