CG AIR STATION CAPE COD — Formerly stationed in Boston, a Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team has a new home port on Cape Cod.
A sea of dress blues, two large boats mounted with automatic guns and an enormous American flag decorated a hangar at Air Station Cape Cod Friday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony welcoming the team.
Maritime safety and security teams were established after the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 in direct response to the 9/11 attacks. The Boston team was established in 2003, and, like other teams in New York, Miami, Seattle, and Los Angeles, it acts to protect U.S. waters from terrorism and crime.
The responsibilities of the team include monitoring and securing harbors and ports. It has extensive specialized training, which means that it is deployed to “big events,” according to Lt. Colin Boyle, the team's executive officer. The team has helped secure the harbor for Sail Boston and aided areas affected by hurricanes Harvey and Maria.
Sometimes the whole team will be deployed for events such as the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York in 2017. Other times a few members of the unit will be deployed, such as when they assisted Canadian forces to monitor shared ocean borders.
Though its name and location have changed, Maritime Safety and Security Team Cape Codhas remained “ready, relevant, and responsive” through its transition, said Capt. Mark Walsh, chief of the Operational Forces Branch for the Atlantic Area.
Lt. Cmdr. Anna Hart, commanding officer of the Cape Cod MSST, praised the 51 men and women who are on the team for their outstanding service.
Hart recognized that the transition to a new place can be difficult. With only one year left herself on assignment with the team, Hart thanked the families present for their flexibility and support.
In an interview after the ceremony, Hart said that she was “beyond excited” about the upcoming year and continuing to get more comfortable on the Cape.
The team moved because its location at the Coast Guard station in Boston's North End was very congested, Hart said. The team is not meant to be a search and rescue unit and is “deployable,” meaning it keeps its vessels on trailers to be launched almost anywhere. Moving to the Cape also meant opening up more space in Boston, she said.
The unit's six 29-foot RBS2 response boats and a remote operated vehicle will be kept primarily at the air station, but an agreement with Massachusetts Maritime Academy to use its pier will give the team dock space while it trains, according to Hart.
As a high-ranking female official in the military, Hart said that she has always been seen first as an officer in the Coast Guard, but she also has been an advocate of having women in the military, especially in leadership.
Five of the 51 team members are women, according Boyle.
Chief Petty Officer Stacy Treece is one of those women, and a mother. Treece is from Arkansas, and joined the Coast Guard after the attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. Now working on a counter-terrorism team, she said that it was interesting looking back to why she joined. Like Hart, Treece has one year left at on the team before she is reassigned, and doesn't know where her next stop will be.
Many of the team members said that the move has been a big change, but that they have been very supportive of each other. Members have even received emails about getting beach passes, according to Petty Officer 2nd Class James Kimball.
— Follow Colleen Cronin on Twitter: @ccroninCCT.