Coast Guard warns mariners, prepares for storm, coastal flooding in Northeast

The Coast Guard is advising mariners and the public along the Massachusetts and Rhode Island coast to exercise vigilance and extreme caution Thursday night through Saturday as a powerful storm approaches.

Conditions are expected to deteriorate Thursday night. Along with heavy rain and strong wind gusts, high tide cycles from Friday into Saturday are at risk for widespread, major coastal flooding. The intensity and height of the predicted storm’s wave action combined with the astronomically high tides, and the long duration of this coastal storm, could significantly exceed the coastal flooding damage experienced during the nor’easter this past January.

The forecasted high winds, rain, coastal flooding, and heavy seas will make operation in the maritime environment dangerous.

Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod aircraft have been flying storm tracks ahead of the storm to warn mariners of the impending storm. Click here for audio of the broadcast.

Coast Guard Cutter Spencer, a 270-foot cutter homeported in Boston, will be staged off the coast to respond to offshore search and rescue cases.

Due to the extreme conditions some Coast Guard assets may have limited ability to respond to vessels in distress. Therefore, waterfront operators, mariners, fishing vessels, recreational boaters, and the general public should exercise extreme caution as conditions begin to deteriorate on Thursday night.

Mariners and recreational boaters are warned to take the following precautions to protect their vessels and their crews:

• If a storm is approaching, do not go out to sea.

• Double-check lines when securing your boat. Take precautions for items stored loosely aboard.

• Secure all paddle craft and ensure they are not located in or near the tidal surge zone.

• Contact local marinas for advice on how best to secure your vessel.

• If you must get underway, create a float plan and send it to your friends and families before getting underway. Ensure that you have the proper signaling devices onboard your vessel and the correct amount of life jackets onboard.

• The storm is likely to produce dangerous winds and coastal flash flooding. Personal watercraft and paddle craft users are advised to stay off the water due extremely hazardous sea conditions. Also, swimmers, surfers, and wind surfers are strongly urged to stay out of the water during this period of heavy weather. 

• Always wear a proper life jacket when on a boat or personal watercraft.

All boaters and those living along coastal communities are urged to secure their small craft, including canoes, kayaks, and paddle craft, due to the expected high winds, heavy seas, and storm surge. Paddle craft owners are urged to pull and secure vessels well above high water levels to avoid craft being pulled off the shore. Once at sea, unmanned craft often result in complex, unnecessary searches thereby reducing Coast Guard's capability to respond to actual distress at sea. Also, please clearly mark all paddle craft with owner's name and contact information.

Coast Guard Sector Boston’s area of responsibility extends from Plymouth, MA, to the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border and is expected to be heavily impacted.

“Our primary concern is ensuring the safety of the people and mariners who live and work throughout the New England coastal community,” said Capt. Claudia Gelzer, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Boston. “We strongly advise everyone to stay vigilant, pay attention to any weather updates, and avoid putting themselves or their loved ones at risk as the storm passes off the coast.”

For additional information on the storm, visit the National Weather Service:

Spencer's crew returns home after busy 90-day patrol

The Coast Guard Cutter Spencer returned home to Boston Tuesday following a highly successful 90-day patrol fighting transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, and training for multi-national search and rescue response in the Arctic.

The crew’s patrol efforts resulted in the interdiction of four drug-laden vessels, the seizure of more than 7,000 pounds of cocaine worth more than $110 million, and the apprehension of 12 suspected smugglers.

Last week, the crew offloaded approximately 10 tons of cocaine and 23 kilograms of heroin in Port Everglades, Florida, worth an estimated $300 million wholesale. The drugs were interdicted along Mexico and Central America by multiple U.S. Coast Guard cutters.

"While this offload represents approximately 10 tons of illicit drugs that will never hit out streets, it also represents a significant depletion to the cash flow to these criminal organizations," said Cdr. John Mctamney, Spencer's commanding officer.

Mctamney said the offload is not just the result of their crew's work, but the combined efforts of multiple Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, and support, as well as those of "our partners and allied men and women who continue to work day and night to stop these criminal organizations from profiting off transnational crime and smuggling."

During their patrol, the Spencer’s crew also participated in the 2017 Arctic Guardian Search and Rescue (SAR) Exercise in Reyjkavik, Iceland. The full-scale, underway exercise included participation by eight Arctic nations working to hone best practices for potential multi-national search and rescue response in the Arctic region.

The cutter Spencer is a 270-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Boston with a crew complement of 13 officers and 87 enlisted personnel.