Coast Guard Station Washington conducts training on Potomac River

Petty Officer 3rd Class Luis Rangel, a crewmember of Coast Guard Station Washington, mans a simulated weapon on the bow of a 25-foot Response Boat – Small during a training scenario as part of the unit’s tactics, techniques and procedures training on the Potomac River, Thursday, April 11, 2013. The training is conducted for members to earn their training qualifications and keep current training qualifications valid. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lindberg.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Luis Rangel, a crewmember of Coast Guard Station Washington, mans a simulated weapon on the bow of a 25-foot Response Boat – Small during a training scenario as part of the unit’s tactics, techniques and procedures training on the Potomac River, Thursday, April 11, 2013. The training is conducted for members to earn their training qualifications and keep current training qualifications valid. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lindberg.

Post written by PA2 Jonathan Lindberg

Two orange Coast Guard boats dart around the Potomac River playing what looks like a game of cat and mouse. The revving of engines, flashing blue lights and periodic whooping of sirens grab the attention of sightseers and passerbys on a stretch of the river between the 14th Street Bridge and Arlington Memorial Bridge, known as “the racetrack.”

This area, only a short distance from the National Mall, is where the station conducts their tactics, techniques and procedures training.

“The training is done for three major reasons,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Ben Atkins, the training petty officer at Coast Guard Station Washington. “We want to train our new people and get them exposure, as well as give advanced training to some of the experienced station members. We also need to keep each station member’s training qualifications current.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Stuart Henderson and Petty Officer 2nd Class Miguel Santoyo, crewmembers of Coast Guard Station Washington, communicate during a training scenario as part of the unit’s tactics, techniques and procedures training on the Potomac River, Thursday, April 11, 2013. The crew of the station conducts TTP training monthly during the cold weather months and bi-weekly during warm weather months. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lindberg.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Stuart Henderson and Petty Officer 2nd Class Miguel Santoyo, crewmembers of Coast Guard Station Washington, communicate during a training scenario as part of the unit’s tactics, techniques and procedures training on the Potomac River, Thursday, April 11, 2013. The crew of the station conducts TTP training monthly during the cold weather months and bi-weekly during warm weather months. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lindberg.

There are six separate training qualifications a station members can obtain and it can take roughly a year to complete all of them. Each station member must train at least once every six months per training qualification to stay current within that qualification.

This high level of readiness is called upon frequently and executed in an area with some of the highest security in the country.

“As a federal law enforcement agency, we are the lead organization responsible for waterside security during any National Special Security Event in the National Capital Region, such as the recent Presidential Inauguration, the State of the Union address and the July 4th celebration,” said Atkins. “The station has all authority when it comes to maintaining and enforcing security zones on the river.”

Having the top-level authority means also having a high level of proficiency. For the station, it all comes back to their training.

“Semper Paratus is more than just a motto, it really means something down here at the deckplate level,” said Atkins. “The only way we can achieve mission success is if we are always ready, 100 percent of the time. When you consider the diversity of mission sets we have – homeland security operations, recreational boating safety, law enforcement and search and rescue – the only way we can maintain that level of readiness is through training. If we don’t train at a high level, we can’t perform on a high level.”

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