Reference Library – USA – Alaska
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Andrew Markham, an Alaska Army National Guard Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Environmental technician, gears up in 2016 exercise. Image-U.S. Air Force/ Airman Isaac Johnson
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska The Alaska National Guard s 103rd Weapons of Mass Destruction- Civil Support Team will be testing its ability to respond to a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat in the municipality of Anchorage, May 1-3, alongside a multitude of other state Civil Support Teams and local, state and federal agencies. The annual exercise, dubbed Orca 2017, provides an opportunity for multiple agencies to tandemly react to a weapons of mass destruction event. During the exercise, teams will receive several notional CBRN threats within a 24-36 hour window that require rapid reaction and response by the players. This particular training will allow each agency to perfect its role within a weapons of mass destruction event and also sharpen their proficiencies when operating collectively.
Among the agencies who will be participating are: Alaska National Guard s Joint Operations Center, the Guam-based 94th WMD-CST, Nebraska-based 72nd WMD-CST, North Dakota-based 81st WMD-CST, Rhode Island-based 13th WMD-CST, 176th Civil Engineer Squadron, Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Alaska Public Health lab, Anchorage Police Department (SWAT), Anchorage Fire Department (HAZMAT), Palmer Fire Department, Port of Anchorage, Providence Hospital, Alaska Native Hospital, Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility, University of Alaska, Alaska Railroad, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Federal Bureau and Investigation, U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, JBER Counter-Improvised Explosive Device, National Weather Service and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 154-foot Sentinel-class cutters replace the 1980s-era 110-foot Island-class patrol boats
U.S. Coast Guard
The Sentinel-class fast response cutter is a new Coast Guard patrol boat that is capable of deploying independently to conduct missions that include port, waterways and coastal security; fishery patrols; search and rescue; and national defense. Named after Coast Guard enlisted heroes, the cutters are replacing the aging Island-class 110-foot patrol boats. The U.S. Coast Guard has selected Astoria as the new home for two fast response cutters by 2021, a decision that will expand the agency s footprint in the Columbia-Pacific region and provide a significant financial boost to the Lower Columbia River area. The 154-foot Sentinel-class cutters each costing $73 million replace the 1980s-era 110-foot Island-class patrol boats, which are nearing the end of service life.
Each of the new cutters will require two officers and 20 crew. Upon stationing a new Sentinel-class cutter in Ketchikan, Alaska, earlier this month, Coast Guard Adm. Charles D. Michel said, At 154 feet, the Fast Response Cutter has incredible improvements over its predecessor. The longer length makes for a more stable platform to conduct operations from launching small boats in heavy seas to remaining at sea for longer periods of time.
This new cutter is also capable of going farther increasing operational range from 1,853 nautical miles to 2,500 nautical miles. As a result, Alaska will see a 19 percent increase in patrol boat operations. The Fast Response Cutter also achieves speeds of nearly 30 knots for longer periods of time, besting the cutter it is replacing.
Paraphrasing the ship s commanding officer, the ship can go farther than before and get there faster than before. Astoria had been competing with Newport for the two new cutters.
The Coast Guard has been looking at the 17th Street Dock or Tongue Point for the new cutters, but an official said a decision has not been made on where in the city the cutters will homeport. The new cutters have not been named, according to the Coast Guard, but others in the class have been named for enlisted personnel who distinguished themselves. The Coast Guard said a 110-foot Island-class patrol boat, the Orcas, will continue to operate in Coos Bay until the new cutters arrive in Astoria in 2021.
The Coast Guard s Sector Columbia River headquarters and Air Station Astoria are based at the Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton. Astoria is also home to the Coast Guard s 210-foot medium endurance cutters Steadfast and Alert, and the 180-foot buoy tender Fir, but does not have one of the Island-class patrol boats.
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Cody Randall Hess, 22, was sentenced Thursday in Anchorage to 5 1/2 years in prison for a shooting in the neighborhood of Spenard last year, the reason for which remains unclear despite the conclusion of the case. Hess was challenged by Spenard homeowner Shane Hatcher, who confronted him about being in the neighborhood uninvited, police said at the time. Hess opened fire on Hatcher, striking him in the torso. District Attorney Clint Campion said that interpretation of the shooting is fair but Hess may have misunderstood the interaction that led up to it. The misunderstanding stems from Hess living with cognitive disabilities, as noted by defense attorney Michael Schwaiger during the hearing. Schwaiger said Hess was angry when he encountered Hatcher because he’d been locked out of his assisted living home.
Hess was taken into custody after the shooting, first reported at about 8:30 p.m. on June 9, 2016, near Wyoming Drive and West 37th Avenue. Responding officers, including a K-9 unit, found Hess, who matched witnesses’ description of the suspect. Hess is believed to have fired a .40 caliber firearm about 10 times, striking Hatcher once, Campion said. Hess told police he had drunk alcohol, but a blood test was not conducted, Campion said. Hatcher did not attend the hearing. Office of Victims’ Rights attorney Katherine Hansen said Hatcher’s life was destroyed by the shooting he worked as a security guard for 15 years and felt he could not continue with that line of work. Hatcher decided Alaska was unsafe and moved, Hansen said.
Campion asked Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Corey to impose a sentence of six years with two years suspended. He said jail time was appropriate but the focus should be on Hess’ rehabilitation.
“It’s through good luck that we’re not dealing with a homicide,” Campion said. Hess should not have been in possession of a firearm due to his “several developmental disabilities,” Schwaiger said. The defense attorney mentioned fetal alcohol syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Hess has no criminal history as an adult, no juvenile criminal history and has not had disciplinary issues while incarcerated, Schwaiger said.
“He generally does well in a structured environment,” he said.
Eloise Joseph, Hess’ adoptive mother, told the judge she became Hess’ foster mom when he was 4, and obtained guardianship by the time he was 8. She said Hess started to act out around 20, hanging out with the wrong crowd. Hess ended up in the assisted living home due to the issues but would come home for the weekend to attend church with the family.
“I’m not making excuses for what he did. I can offer an environment where he can get treatment. I’ll be there for him when he gets out,” Joseph said. Hess struggled to read from a handwritten note when he apologized for his actions and the pain he caused Hatcher and Hatcher’s family.
“I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I’m not a bad person. I just made a bad decision.”
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