Coast Guard keeps watch during Seattle’s Seafair weekend

Boat crewmembers from Coast Guard Station Seattle speak with local boaters about proper safety equipment during an inspection on Lake Washington during Seafair festivities in Seattle, Aug. 6, 2016. Now in its 67th year, Seafair is an annual Seattle event that celebrates summer in the Pacific Northwest. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Zac Crawford.

Boat crewmembers from Coast Guard Station Seattle speak with local boaters about proper safety equipment during an inspection on Lake Washington during Seafair festivities in Seattle, Aug. 6, 2016. Now in its 67th year, Seafair is an annual Seattle event that celebrates summer in the Pacific Northwest. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Zac Crawford.

Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lara Davis.

The 67th annual Seafair Weekend on the water, land and in the air took place August 5th through 7th, 2016. Seafair is considered by many to be one of the fun ways to enjoy the summer and the Coast Guard intends to keep it that way.

Petty Officer 2nd Class James Grant, a maritime enforcement specialist and dog handler assigned to Maritime Safety and Security Team 91101 in Seattle, introduces canine Sonya to children attending Seafair festivities next to Lake Washington in Seattle, Aug. 6, 2016. Coast Guard crews partnered with state and local agencies to coordinate safety and security operations for those working at and attending Seafair. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ayla Kelley.

Petty Officer 2nd Class James Grant, a maritime enforcement specialist and dog handler assigned to Maritime Safety and Security Team 91101 in Seattle, introduces canine Sonya to children attending Seafair festivities next to Lake Washington in Seattle, Aug. 6, 2016. Coast Guard crews partnered with state and local agencies to coordinate safety and security operations for those working at and attending Seafair. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ayla Kelley.

A tradition since the 1950s, hydroplanes race on Lake Washington near Genesee Park and draw thousands of spectators. The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels take their aerial acrobatics to the sky along with aircraft from the Flying Heritage Collection, the Air National Guard, the U.S. Marines and the Breitling Jet Team. With the surrounding area full of activities and families, security becomes a top priority for law enforcement agencies and Seafair organizers. Local Coast Guard units are a crucial part of ensuring the boating public is safe on the water and adheres to maritime laws.

Since the inception of Seafair, the Coast Guard has been an active participant. As recreational boaters leave the docks and crowds gather along the shores of the lake to enjoy Seafair festivities, the Coast Guard is already prepared for whatever each day might bring. Coast Guard crews, working in partnership with state and local agencies, conduct Boating Under the Influence (BUI) education, detection and enforcement patrols throughout Seafair weekend. The Coast Guard, Washington State and Seattle-area agencies also maintain a safety zone on Lake Washington during the air shows. Crews from Coast Guard Station Seattle, Marine Safety and Security Team 91101, Port Security Unit 313, Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor and the Sector Puget Sound Boarding Team, conduct boating inspections to ensure all required gear, such as lifejackets and fire extinguishers, are on board and operational.

Lt. Patrick Kerscher, an officer from Coast Guard Station Seattle, rides aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium to conduct maritime emergency response and law enforcement operations during Seattle’s 67th annual Seafair celebration, Aug. 5, 2016. Coast Guard crews were responsible for maintaining a flight safety zone while the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels performed above Lake Washington. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lara Davis.

Lt. Patrick Kerscher, an officer from Coast Guard Station Seattle, rides aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium to conduct maritime emergency response and law enforcement operations during Seattle’s 67th annual Seafair celebration, Aug. 5, 2016. Coast Guard crews were responsible for maintaining a flight safety zone while the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels performed above Lake Washington. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lara Davis.

The high volume of boating traffic from Seafair events increases the need for multi-agency cooperation to maintain security on and near the water. This year, the Coast Guard responded to 7 rescue cases, conducted safety checks and assisted with 25 BUIs.

“Overall, this year’s Seafair was a success,” said Lt Cmdr. Pat Gallagher, chief of enforcement, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “Although we did have some rescue and BUI cases, there were no fatalities or serious accidents and we appreciate the cooperation between responders, Seafair staff and members of the boating public to make this a fun and safe event.”

The Coast Guard has been participating in Seafair activities for more than 25 years and has stood watch over the people of the Pacific Northwest and visitors during this period of increased maritime activity.

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