U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, in partnership with the CNMI Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Commonwealth Port Authority, and Isla Petroleum & Energy, successfully concluded the first-ever full-scale exercise, dubbed Lina'la Halom Tasi 2024, from June 25 to 27. 

This exercise simulated an oil spill and aimed to enhance response capabilities and coordination among various regional agencies and organizations.

“The Lina'la Halom Tasi Exercise 2024 is the first-ever full-scale pollution response exercise in the CNMI. It showcases the strength of our partnership with the CNMI. Our joint efforts in everything from the regional response plan to testing it in this exercise significantly improved our ability to respond effectively to maritime emergencies, ensuring the safety and security of our waters. We look forward to continued collaboration with our CNMI partners to enhance our collective preparedness and resilience,” said Cmdr. Ryan Crose, deputy commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam.

Lina'la Halom Tasi means life in the ocean, which captures the importance of the ocean to the people of the Marianas. 

The exercise, which simulated an oil spill, has significantly enhanced response capabilities and coordination among various regional agencies and organizations, instilling a sense of confidence in collective preparedness.

“The U.S. Coast Guard Full Scale Exercise ‘Lina'la Halom Tasi 2024’ will improve the preparedness and response efforts of the CNMI government and stakeholders. The U.S. Coast Guard ICS Section Chief Training has helped local personnel build their expertise in handling oil spill scenarios and improve their overall emergency response capabilities. In addition, they are helping protect the environment by practicing containment and cleanup procedures to reduce long-term environmental damage in a real-world emergency. Overall, the U.S. Coast Guard exercise significantly contributes to the CNMI's ability to safeguard its community and environment and reduce the potential impacts of oil spills,” said Special Assistant Franklin Babauta, CNMI HSEM.

The exercise featured events, including personnel training at the Emergency Operations Center on June 25, equipment drills at Tanapag Harbor on June 26, and a comprehensive after-action review on June 27.

“The exercise was a great success and a valuable hands-on experience for the IP&E team to prepare to be ready to respond to an oil spill if it occurs. The goal is always to prevent any incident from happening, of course," said Jack Salas, with IP&E. 

“IP&E practices a culture of safety, and we are committed to being a responsible company that demonstrates care for our community and environment. We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this exercise that the Unified Command organized and for the productive collaboration and effort given by all the agencies that came together to be better equipped during a critical moment,” Salas added. 

Exercise objectives included demonstrating and testing the ability of the responsible party and responding organizations, disposing of recovered material and contaminated debris, and establishing effective communication systems for response efforts. 

The exercise saw participation from a variety of agencies and organizations, including:

  • CNMI Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • Commonwealth Ports Authority
  • Isla Petroleum and Energy
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife
  • Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services
  • Department of Public Safety
  • Department of Public Works
  • Public School System

“The Lina'la Halom Tasi Exercise 2024 is a crucial part of the U.S. Coast Guard's ongoing exercise cycle, designed to ensure continuous readiness and the ability to respond swiftly and effectively to maritime emergencies,” said Mr. Jack Ary, the port security and recovery specialist for U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. 

“This rigorous cycle, emphasizing operational excellence, enhances our collaborative capabilities with regional partners, providing a sense of security,” Ary added.