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New Orleans-based Coast Guard anti-terror team returns from Guantanamo deployment

MSST New Orleans
homecoming

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With big Thanksgiving dinners waiting in the wings, family members greeted the U.S. Coast Guard anti-terrorism team as it returned home on Nov. 15 from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after a six-month deployment.

During the operation, the Coast Guard said Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) New Orleans members formed the Joint Task Force Guantanamo Maritime Security Detachment. The team was responsible for securing the port and waterways around the base on the southeastern coast of Cuba. MSST New Orleans boat crews, specialized in armed boat tactics and threat interdiction, conducted more than 4,400 hours of continuous patrols during the deployment, said the Coast Guard.

"A MSSTs team’s flexibility allows us to consistently adapt to multiple homeland security and military missions from security patrols to search and rescue and humanitarian operations," said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Meuse, MSST New Orleans’ commanding officer. " I am extremely proud of the unit’s impressive quiet professionalism and their contributions to this strategically important mission for the United States.”

The unit also provided shore-side security at Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which includes internal courtroom security for the expeditionary legal complex where military commissions for high value detainees are held, said the Coast Guard.

In addition to the security mission, MSST New Orleans’ members participated in 10 search and rescue missons. Most recently, on Nov. 6, said the Coast Guard, they rescued two men, adrift for a reported five days with no food or water in a 35-foot boat that was taking on water. Fuel drums aboard the vessel also appeared to be leaking into the bilge. One of the men began having difficulty breathing, and both were transported to local emergency medical services, it said.

The team also pulled two stranded teenage boys from the water and transported them to local emergency medical services, who conducted an assessment before both boys were turned over to mother, it said.

A MSST New Orleans Boat crew also responded to a request for medical evacuation of a firefighter, in need of medical assistance due to smoke inhalation, on leeward side of island. They rapidly transported him to Hospital Landing to receive emergency medical attention.

To augment the MSST's active-duty component, more than 35 Coast Guard Reservists from two other deployable specialized forces, Port Security Unit 309 and 307, participated in the six-month deployment.

“During the deployment, the active and reserve components integrated seamlessly across all aspects and the reservists brought unique port security skills and experience that greatly enhanced our effectiveness,” Meuse said.

Prior to deploying, the Coast Guard said unit members completed two-months of training that included boat and weapon qualifications, team coordination training and CPR certification.

MSSTs provide waterborne and a shore-side antiterrorism force protection for strategic shipping, high-interest vessels and critical infrastructure. The units are a quick response force capable of rapid worldwide deployment via air, ground or sea transportation in response to changing threat conditions and evolving maritime homeland security mission requirements.

Eleven MSSTs are strategically positioned throughout the nation and are components of the U.S. Deployable Operations Group (DOG). The DOG provides properly equipped, trained and organized Deployable Specialized Forces (DSFs) to Coast Guard, DHS, Department of Defense and interagency operational commanders.