Coast Guard gears up for busier seas as COVID restrictions ease

Coast Guard gears up for busier seas as COVID restrictions ease

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The US Coast Guard in Honolulu has kept busy during the pandemic, despite fewer search and rescue missions.

Coast Guard Honolulu Station Manager Gregory Lewis said with fewer tourists and more restrictions, fewer people are going in the water.

“We do believe that’s because of the lack of tourism coming in,” said Lewis.

Lewis said that Oahu’s move to ease COVID restrictions, including allowing more people on boats, he expects more search and rescue missions to occur.

“These crafts may have not been used for a while,” Lewis said. “They may just sit at the pier. So there could be a lot of safety issues that need to be addressed and looked at.”

Lewis recommends making sure the boat is inspected and all necessary safety gear, such as life jackets and flares, are at the ready.

He also recommends that boaters fill out a USCG float plan with a family member.

The Coast Guard said exercising and planning has still been in full-swing since the pandemic as well as longer missions.

Representatives with the Honolulu Sector said their newly-updated 154-foot Sentinel class cutter fleet has had a recent mission concentration on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

“It has increased our ability for search and rescue throughout the main Hawaiian Islands,” Lewis said.

Lewis said the Honolulu Sector takes COVID precautions seriously. Oftentimes for longer missions, crew members will have a full quarantine to ensure there won’t be outbreaks on the ship.

Mike Nazzario, a vessel inspector, boards ships and talks to crews from around the world.

“We may see a vessel from India today and Italy tomorrow, as well as domestic vessels,” Nazzario said.

“What we’ve gotten away from is the face to face interaction that we saw on a regular basis. But now we’ve implemented new technology, implementing remote work technology and the ability to teleconference.”

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.