National Strike Force News 2009


At one time this site provided news releases related to the National Strike Force. NSF provides highly trained, experienced personnel and specialized equipment to Coast Guard and other federal agencies to facilitate preparedness for and response to oil and hazardous substance pollution incidents in order to protect public health and the environment. The NSF’s area of responsibility covers all Coast Guard Districts and Federal Response Regions.

The NSF totals over 200 active duty, civilian, reserve, and auxiliary personnel and includes the National Strike Force Coordination Center (NSFCC); the Atlantic Strike Team; the Gulf Strike Team; and the Pacific Strike Team. To learn more go to the U.S. Coast Guard's website at:

The AST and the PST are two of 3 Special Teams that make up the National Strike Force. They are a vital national asset comprised of a unique, highly trained cadre of Coast Guard professionals who maintain and rapidly deploy with specialized equipment and incident management skills any time to any place or hazard.

My uncle was a member of the Pacific Strike Team and the National Strike Force for a number of years. Just like all members of the Strike Teams, my uncle was highly trained. He would explain that the teams were specifically equipped to respond to oil, hazardous material, and weapons of mass destruction events resulting from a natural disaster or man-made event. His work seemed so exciting, yet dangerous. I think the American people should be more aware of what our men and women in the Coast Guard and the special Strike Forces do for us, which is one of the main reasons I created this page from archived content from the original website. The Website Archive Project helped with the technical chores. Today’s National Strike Force totals over 200 active duty, civilian, and reserve personnel. The Pacific Strike Team alone is comprised of 42 Active Duty, 25 Reservists, 3 Civilians, and 1 Auxiliarist. According to the Pacific Strike Team Briefing Book, the enlisted force includes Boatswain Mates, Machinery Technicians, Damage Control Technicians, Electronics Technicians, Electrician Mates, Marine Science Technicians, Storekeepers, Yeoman, and Health Services Technicians. Every member, regardless of rate, is first and foremost a responder. This provides the PST with the required knowledge, diversity, and skill sets necessary to respond to any potential emergency. In addition to their critical roles, the community of the Pacific Strike Team also shares a unique cultural bond, which includes a tradition of collecting and exchanging movie posters related to maritime history and heroic acts at sea. To support this tradition and to raise awareness of the Strike Team's heritage, a program has been established to sell movie posters to collectors, with proceeds aiding in the preservation of historical artifacts and the funding of memorial services honoring their service.

Hats off ot the United States Coast Guard and their National Strike Force Teams.

They are recognized worldwide as an expert authority in the preparation for and response to the effects resulting from oil discharges, hazardous substance releases, weapons of mass destruction events, and other emergencies on behalf of the American public.

News Release

Date: June 12, 2009

Contact: Public Affairs Detachment Baltimore

(410) 576-2541


Three members of the Coast Guard's Atlantic Strike Team (AST) are assisting Coast Guard Sector Baltimore in determining the extent of hazards on board the abandoned vessel Snowbird in Baltimore Friday.

The Fort Dix, N.J.-based Strike Team members arrived on-scene Thursday and are providing air monitoring, site assessment, sampling and hazard categorization of the M/V Snowbird at Canton Terminal.

The work being done by Sector Baltimore and the AST is in its initial stages.

For more information about the Coast Guard's response contact Public Affairs Detachment Baltimore at (410) 576-2541.

News Release

Date: March 6, 2009

Contact: Petty Officer Sara Francis

(907) 321-4510


The Coast Guard's Pacific Strike Team is assisting with oil and fuel removal operations Friday on the grounded fishing vessel Mar-Gun at St. George Island, Alaska.

Factors regarding the sensitive nature of the environment on and around St. George Island have prompted the Coast Guard to mobilize the PST to respond to the pollution threat posed by the grounded 112-foot vessel.

No pollution has been reported.

Six members of the Coast Guard's Pacific Strike Team arrived Thursday from their home base in Novato, Calif.  Additional Coast Guard personnel from Sector Anchorage and District Seventeen are also assisting.  The strike team and Navy Supervisor of Salvage will use equipment delivered by a Coast Guard C-130.  The team will work to safely remove the 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 668 gallons of lube oil reported to be on board the Mar-Gun.

The Department of Interior and State of Alaska indicates Staraya Beach, on the north end of St. George Island, is home to fur seal and sea lion rookeries and haul-outs as well as many species of marine birds. The beach is also adjacent to an archeological site of a historic Russian Aleutian settlement.

The crew of five of the Mar-Gun was rescued from the vessel by a Coast Guard helicopter Thursday and were delivered safely to St. Paul.  According to the crew, they transferred the fuel on board to tanks away from the outer hull in an effort to preempt any discharge before leaving the vessel.

The Mar-Gun is a stern trawler based out of Seattle. The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the incident.

News Release

Date: Feb. 23, 2009

Contact: David Kluesner

(212) 637-3653


Two members of the Coast Guard's Atlantic Strike Team are working with the Environmental Protection Agency by collecting soil samples in contaminated portions of the Passaic River in Newark, N.J., Monday.

The Strike Team members are monitoring air quality, ensuring safety standards are met and providing photographic documentation at the dredging sites.  Soil sample collection at the site will continue until Saturday as the initial phases of the cleanup project begin.

The sediments of the lower Passaic River, the longest river in New Jersey, are contaminated with a variety of hazardous substances including:  dioxin, PCBs, mercury, DDT, pesticides and heavy metals.

The Lower Passaic River Restoration Project is a partnership of federal and state agencies designed to clean up contaminated sediments, improve water quality, restore degraded shorelines, create new habitats and enhance public recreation along a 17-mile stretch of the river.  The project also includes several tributaries from Dundee Dam near Garfield to Newark Bay.


Press Release

Date: Jan. 16, 2009

Contact: Public Affairs Detachment New York

(212) 668-7114

Atlantic Strike Team Responds to N.Y. Plane Crash

Three members of the Coast Guard's Atlantic Strike Team are on scene to assist with the salvage of the US Airways plane that crashed in New York Thursday.

Two of the Fort Dix, N.J., based team members are working with Coast Guard Sector New York and contractors to develop a salvage plan and document the costs of the plane's recovery. Another member is leading a recovery team at the salvage site.

For more information about the Coast Guard's response, contact Coast Guard Public Affairs Detachment New York at (212) 668-7114.


Feature Release

Date: Jan. 19, 2009

Contact: Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer

(202) 406-9625

National Strike Force stands watch at inauguration

Story and photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Crystalynn Kneen

A bitter cold air blows past the sensor of a small, yellow, hand-held piece of equipment that beeps in its response. This equipment is being used to scan the air for a potential radiological threat. The person holding it is part of a specialized unit that is highly trained in threat detection. It is this equipment and this unit that has been put in place for the 56th presidential inauguration to rapidly respond in the event of a chemical, biological or radiological attack as this country swears in a new commander and chief.

The Atlantic Strike Team, from Fort Dix, N.J., the Pacific Strike Team, stationed in Novato, Calif., and the Gulf Strike Team, stationed in Mobile, Ala., make up the U.S. Coast Guard's National Strike Force and have been deployed as part of a comprehensive port security regime designed to safeguard human life, vessels and waterfront facilities against attacks during the inaugural period.

The individuals that make up the U.S. Coast Guard's National Strike Force are actively participating in this multi-layer security response, using their skills and more than 1000 hours of training in detection to mitigate the damage of any potential threat.

"Due to the 56th presidential inauguration, we are here to support this multi-agency response and be an integral part of the team," said Petty Officer 1st Class Dan Taylor, a response technician for the Atlantic Strike Team.

One of the threats the National Strike Force is trained to detect is radiation. Using the small, yellow piece of equipment, which is called an Identifinder, they are able to detect what sort of radiation is in the area, and whether the isotopes in the radiation are harmful or a natural occurring radioactive material. 

"Once you find a source, this piece of equipment captures a spectrum of radioactivity. We then send the spectrum sample to a lab, and we get a quick response back if the material is dangerous or nothing to worry about," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Carol Baillie, an emergency medical technician with the Atlantic Strike Team.

For a biological attack, the strike teams use a piece of equipment called a Bio-Threat Alert Detector (BTA). The equipment is used to collect samples and test solids and liquids to see if there is any biological threat in the area.

"Biological material is a living and growing agent," said Lt.j.g. Ryan Dickson, a response officer with the Gulf Strike Team. "The BTA detector gives an initial positive or negative response of the proteins that are found."

Lastly, equipment such as a Flame Ionization Detector (FID), which detects organic compounds, and a Photo Ionization Detector (PID), are both used to detect airborne chemical threats.

"The FID and the PID are used for initial entry in a hazardous or unknown environment," said Baillie. "It gives you a starting point, and we go from there."

"When these situations arise, a team is assembled and deployed to the incident," said Petty Officer 1st Class Terence Braver, a response supervisor with the Atlantic Strike Team. "We set up a hazardous material response trailer and depending on the hazard, we use the appropriate equipment for the situation."

For the inauguration, the National Strike Force has set up roaming detection teams to randomly search areas and vessels using enhanced chemical, biological, radiation detection. They search for any abnormal or elevated atmospheric reading and suspicious activity involved in the security zones.

"If we find anything during these sweeps, we have the proper equipment to identify the substance, decontaminate the area and clean up as necessary," said Dickson.

In addition to the inauguration, the National Strike teams have recently responded to the oil spill in New Orleans in July, Hurricane Ike, an oil well fire in Oliver Springs, Tenn., the 2007 Danbury, Conn., anthrax case and most recently the US Airways plane crash in New York.

"We are continuously training for any situation that arises," said Petty Officer 1st Class Rick Mantici, a response technician for the Atlantic Strike Team. "The National Strike Force has a deep history in supporting this nation in large scale events like these. Our teams have supported the Republican National Convention, the Democratic National Convention and now, this inauguration."

These teams undergo a lot of training, but for these situations, their training consists of an 80-hour hazardous material class, a 40-hour weapons of mass destruction class, a 160-hour National Fire Protection Association hazardous material technician course, an 80-hour basic strike team equipment and response class and numerous other courses.

"We are trained in numerous equipment. We can monitor air for contaminates, oxygen levels, flammability, explosive atmosphere and radioactivity," said Taylor.

Besides incident equipment, these teams also have personal protective equipment ranging from Level-D, which is their regular daily uniform to Level-A, which protects them from a vapor atmosphere. With this protective equipment, these members are able to assist people with medical issues in areas affected by chemical, biological or radiological attacks.

"Even though we are excited to be apart of this historic event, we are hopeful that our services are not needed," said Dickson.

As the nation stands ready to welcome a new president, the Coast Guard's National Strike Force stands a vigil watch to be aware of, deter and detect any act of aggression against the American homeland.