Coast Guard search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Kapalua, Maui

MH-65 Dolphin helicopter during a search and rescue demonstration exercise Air Station Barbers Point, Coast Guard SAREX exercise off Kapalua.
Archive image: an aviation rescue swimmer is lowered from an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter during a search and rescue demonstration exercise Air Station Barbers Point.
Tomorrow will participate in the search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Kapalua.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Melissa E. McKenzie.

Story by Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard, Maui County Fire Department, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services, American Medical Response (AMR), and Maui County Police Department are scheduled to conduct a search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Kapalua, Thursday.

“We’ve seen similar cases to the scenario we’re exercising off Maui recently. An increase in blue water diving means more people in the water farther from shore. It’s a combined effort, and we want to ensure everyone comes home,” said Lt. j.g Seth Gross, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Teamwork is vital to a successful search and rescue case, and exercises such as this allow us to strengthen our relationships with our local partners, preparing us for real situations in the future.”

This year’s SAREX will entail a coordinated response to an overdue vessel off Kapalua. It will include the deployment of floating mannequins and data marker buoys to simulate people in distress. Waterway users are requested to stay clear of the boating area involved during the exercise, designated by the presence of the mannequins, boats, and other assets. It is also requested they refrain from disturbing the mannequins.

Coast Guard SAREX exercise off Kapalua, Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134)
Archive image: the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) moors at its new homeport at Base Honolulu Aug. 17, 2019. The William Hart is the third 154-foot fast response cutter (FRC) to be stationed in Hawaii. The FRCs replace the Coast Guard’s aging patrol boat fleet and represent the service’s commitment to modernizing assets to address the increasingly complex global Maritime Transportation System.
Tomorrow will participate in the search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Kapalua.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Sherri Eng.

The SAREX will last over two days and will include planning, safety and communication meetings, and a resource open house, Wednesday. The full-scale open-water exercise will occur on Thursday. An Incident Command Post will be established near DT Fleming Beach Park at 8:30 a.m. Thursday for the duration of the exercise. Access to the beach park may be temporarily limited.

Assets involved in this year’s SAREX are:

  • Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center personnel
  • Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew
  • Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) crew
  • Coast Guard Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew
  • Maui Fire Department Rescue Boat crew
  • Maui Fire Department Air 1 rescue helicopter crew
  • Maui Fire Department Engine Company
  • Maui Police Department Emergency Ops and 911 Dispatch
  • Maui County Ocean Safety and Life Guard Services Jet ski operator
45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Station Maui, Coast Guard SAREX exercise
Archive image: a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Station Maui patrol off the coast during Operation Kohola Guardian, Jan. 16, 2018. Operation Kohola Guardian is a cooperative effort between state and federal agencies to reduce risk to mariners and whales in Hawaiian waters while supporting conservative efforts to ensure future generations have the opportunity to experience these animals in their natural habitat.
Tomorrow will participate in the search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off Kapalua.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur.

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu personnel hold SAREXs annually throughout the Hawaiian Islands. They are designed to evaluate notification and response procedures and identify shortfalls in communication and coordination of response during SAR incidents. Each agency holds individual capabilities that complement each other’s efforts and bolsters the overall success of the SAR system.

The general public should remain vigilant and call 911 to report any possible distress situations. Coast Guard response capabilities will not be affected by the exercise.

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