New York-based Coast Guard units are no strangers when it comes to assisting with large-scale events in the area but for the first time in history, area crews put in a team effort alongside local New York and New Jersey authorities to safeguard a Super Bowl event.
Having provided security for the United Nations General Assembly, Macy’s Fourth of July Firework display, Fleet Week and the NYC Marathon in previous years, the opportunity for the Coast Guard’s assets to assist with Super Bowl XLVIII was also a success.
“We’re here to protect our citizens,” said Lt. Cmdr. Luis E. Martinez, chief of Contingency Planning and Force Readiness at Sector New York, in Staten Island, N.Y. “With the Super Bowl comes the potential threat to our citizens. We, along with the other law enforcement agencies, got together as part of the security and transportation functions that would be needed to make this a successful event.”
An event of this proportion required a year’s worth of time to prepare for. The Coast Guard had their hands in nine of 22 planning committees dedicated to the 2014 Super Bowl. Coast Guard assets involved included Coast Guard cutters Sailfish, Penobscot Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Hawser and Line; Sector New York; Station New York; Station Kings Point; Maritime Security Response Team, Atlantic Strike Team; and a maritime safety and security team.
These Coast Guard assets worked alongside federal, state and local agencies in a joint effort to provide critical contributions toward the success of the Super Bowl.
Due to events occurring on both sides of the water in New York as well as New Jersey, there were major impacts and heavy traffic on city transportation systems such as bridges, tunnels and ferries. The mission of these Coast Guard assets was simple: provide security in the case of an event. They contributed to waterside and shoreside protection, port security, security zone enforcement, increased waterside patrol presence in critical waterways and ensured the port was cleared of ice to allow easier transit.
“By having a presence on the water with our security assets, we are basically deterring any potential maritime threat factor,” said Martinez. “Working with our port partners, should something happen on the land side that would need a maritime evacuation or anything like that, we are set to do that as well.”
Martinez works within the Incident Command System, a structure for managing events ranging from an unexpected oil spill to an incident of national significance. Because Sector New York is located in such a large and heavily active port, incident management skills are constantly utilized in order to respond appropriately to any situation.
“The Department of Homeland Security is that agency that was put in place to protect the citizens of the United States,” said Martinez. “In our role as the maritime law enforcement agency under the DHS, we are doing exactly that; we are protecting the citizens of the United States from any potential acts of terrorism.”