Maritime unit dives into tsunami training

State Guard sailors prepare for water rescues

Rescue boats on water.

Story by 2nd Lt. Jennifer Brofer
Photos by Staff Sgt. Zak Lara

California State Guard Public Affairs

Aug. 25, 2021

MORRO BAY, Calif. – Service members with California State Guard’s Maritime Command conducted a training exercise Aug. 14 to strengthen their emergency response capabilities in the event a natural disaster threatens California’s coastal communities.

The service members trained in partnership with U.S. Coast Guard Station Morro Bay, Morro Bay Harbor Patrol and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as CAL FIRE, to respond to a simulated tsunami.

The interagency training gave the command an opportunity to practice water rescue using their 47-foot motor lifeboat that was transferred to the state guard by the San Francisco Police Department, and 16-foot inflatable and rigid rescue boats that were purchased and donated by the California State Guard Foundation.

The training scenario utilized flotation dummies, as well as a trained swimmer, to simulate casualties in the water after a tsunami. Once the simulated casualties were located, rescue boats swiftly picked them up and transported them to a 20-ton motor lifeboat for further care. The training also utilized rescue divers to assist in the water rescue scenario.

The inaugural training was “momentous,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Nina Asbury, a rescue diver and coxswain for the Maritime Command's Maritime Coastal Command One, based in Vallejo.

“It’s the first [training] of its kind that we’ve ever had, so it’s momentous in that we have the opportunity to meet an entirely different unit of maritime that we’ve never seen before, to learn from them and to share the information we’ve gained to make us all operational," said Asbury. "In the case of an emergency we can interweave these groups to respond properly to any emergency in the state of California."

“It just makes perfect sense to bring that synergy together to partner with our local agencies where we can help with the planning and execution of those coastal response plans for tsunami scenarios,” added Lt. Cmdr. Johan Lai, commanding officer of Maritime Coastal Command One.

State Guard leaders said this training undoubtedly prepared the command to respond to future emergencies.

“I thought the exercise was amazing,” said Maj. Gen. Jay Coggan, commanding general of the California State Guard. “It showed the ability for the State Guard to interoperate with other agencies, and we were able to show our capabilities in search and rescue during a tsunami event. We have finally gotten to the point where we’re operational and successful.”

Capt. Robert Baird, commander of the Maritime Command, added, “It’s not a matter of if we have a maritime disaster, it’s a matter of when, and California State Guard Maritime is ready to respond.”


Sailors are briefed on a dock.

Service members with the California State Guard Maritime Command are briefed before a training exercise in Morro Bay, Aug. 14. The Maritime Command partnered with Coast Guard Station Morro Bay, City of Morro Bay Harbor Patrol, and CAL FIRE to enhance their emergency response capabilities.

Service members with the California State Guard Maritime Command are briefed before a training exercise in Morro Bay, Aug. 14. The Maritime Command partnered with Coast Guard Station Morro Bay, City of Morro Bay Harbor Patrol, and CAL FIRE to enhance their emergency response capabilities.

Service members are briefed.

California State Guard Capt. Robert Baird, commander of Maritime Command, and Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Snider, officer in charge of U.S. Coast Guard Station Morro Bay, brief final mission details before their combined annual training exercise.

California State Guard Capt. Robert Baird, commander of Maritime Command, and Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Snider, officer in charge of U.S. Coast Guard Station Morro Bay, brief final mission details before their combined annual training exercise.

Boat on the water.

Service members with Maritime Littoral Command 2, Maritime Command, California State Guard, conduct water patrols prior to the training exercise.

Service members with Maritime Littoral Command 2, Maritime Command, California State Guard, conduct water patrols prior to the training exercise.

Sailor operates a boat.

California State Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Riva, a coxswain with Maritime Littoral Command 2, Maritime Command, operates a 16-foot inflatable rescue boat during the exercise.

California State Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Riva, a coxswain with Maritime Littoral Command 2, Maritime Command, operates a 16-foot inflatable rescue boat during the exercise.

Sailors work between two boats.

California State Guard service members with Maritime Coastal Command One and U.S. Coast Guardsmen with Coast Guard Station Morro Bay work together to transport a simulated casualty aboard for first aid assessment.

California State Guard service members with Maritime Coastal Command One and U.S. Coast Guardsmen with Coast Guard Station Morro Bay work together to transport a simulated casualty aboard for first aid assessment.

A litter is passed between boats.

California State Guard service members with Maritime Littoral Command 2 and U.S. Coast Guardsmen with Coast Guard Station Morro Bay work together to transport a simulated casualty aboard a motor lifeboat for first aid assessment during the exercise.

California State Guard service members with Maritime Littoral Command 2 and U.S. Coast Guardsmen with Coast Guard Station Morro Bay work together to transport a simulated casualty aboard a motor lifeboat for first aid assessment during the exercise.