Captain’s Corner: Sector Commander Roles and Responsibilities

U.S. Coast Guard photo of CAPT Tom Allan taken by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy TamargoThis month’s Captain’s Corner is brought to you by CDR LaDonn Allen, Deputy Commander, Sector Jacksonville. As the Deputy Sector Commander, Ladonn is an exceptional representative of the Coast Guard and leader of our crews. A strong background in emergency response and a former Prevention Department Head, she brings tremendous knowledge and experience to her position, benefiting the Sector and all of northeast Florida. An exceptional Deputy, she is certain to be a Sector Commander in the near future. Please enjoy the article, and as always, we appreciate your input regarding future topics or recommendations. See you in the Port!
– CAPT Tom Allan

Sector Commander Roles and Responsibilities

By CDR LaDonn Allen, Deputy Commander, Sector Jacksonville

When one thinks of the roles and responsibilities of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, you normally think of the Captain of the Port (COTP). In addition to COTP responsibilities, the Sector Commander is vested with all the rights, responsibilities, duties, and authorities of the previous Group Commander and the previous Commanding Officer, Marine Safety Office.

The Sector Commander serves as the principal agent and representative of the District Commander, responsible for the command of all staff and Sector units and accomplishment of all Coast Guard mission objectives within the Sector AOR. The Sector Commander also serves in several designated roles and has many responsibilities.

The COTP within the Sector AOR is responsible for the control of vessel movements, moorings, and vessel anchorages within the zone, including vessel traffic control, monitoring vessels and facilities that transfer bulk liquid cargoes, enforcing regulations concerning port security, port and waterways safety, tank vessel operations, shipment of military explosives, bulk solid cargoes, and packaged hazardous materials, enforcing all pollution prevention laws and regulations, issuing COTP orders and establishing safety and security zones, when necessary, to prevent accidental or intentional damage to any vessel, waterfront facility, or structure. The COTP conducts safety and security boardings of certain foreign vessels entering U. S. waters, and ensures the general safety and security of ports and waterways within the COTP zone and the prevention of destruction, loss of, or damage to vessels, facilities, or structures in U. S. navigable waters or on adjacent shorelines.

The Sector Commander also serves as the designated Federal Maritime Security Coordinator (FMSC) within the Sector AOR and is responsible for establishing, convening, and directing the Area Maritime Security (AMS) Committee, the AMS plan, AMS exercises and records.

The Sector Commander serves as the designated Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC), unless otherwise delegated or assigned, and is responsible for developing and maintaining a federal local contingency plan covering the Coast Guard FOSC’s zone, while chairing the Area Committee. In this capacity, the FOSC evaluates the magnitude and severity of a discharge or release, works with the Regional Response Team (RRT) as appropriate, determines the feasibility of removal of the discharges, determines whether removal efforts of the suspected polluter are proper, assumes federal control when a polluter is unknown and not acting responsibly, or whose removal effort is insufficient, and makes final determinations of when removal is complete in order to terminate the federal response efforts.

The Sector Commander serves as the designated Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI) within the Sector AOR, unless otherwise delegated or assigned. The OCMI administers the Coast Guard’s marine safety field activities within a marine inspection zone delineated by regulations. The OCMI’s duties are to administer and enforce the programs and regulations for marine safety, relative to the inspection of vessels to determine their fitness for the services for which they are intended, and their compliance with applicable statutes, regulations, and standards related to construction, equipage, manning, and operation, inspection of shipyards, waterfront facilities, investigation of marine casualties, personnel injuries, and death aboard commercial vessels, recreational vessels, and OCS facilities, detection of, and investigations into reports of, violations of statutes or regulations, misconduct, incompetence, or misbehavior of merchant mariners or other persons aboard commercial vessels; initiation of remedial action to suspend or revoke licenses and certificates of merchant mariners for such occurrences, and the enforcement of the navigational and vessel inspection laws and of all laws relating to seamen in general.

Search and Rescue (SAR) Mission Coordinator (SMC) and Active Search Suspended (ACTSUS) authority is designated by the SAR Coordinator District Commander. SMC is responsible for following the policy and procedures established in the U. S. Coast Guard Addendum to the United States National Search and Rescue Supplement (NSS) to the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR), COMDTINST M16130.2 (series), insofar as practicable, for all SAR cases. ACTSUS authority provides suspension of SAR cases.

As you can see, the roles and responsibilities of the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Commanding Officer encompass numerous designations and authorities. These authorities have a long history, with COTP authority dating back to June 15, 1917 when Captain Godfrey L. Carden was appointed the first Coast Guard COTP for the Port of New York.

Featured image by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto on Flickr, CC License