JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Jacksonville-area Coast Guardsmen participated in a Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department-led maritime emergency response exercise Wednesday centered on a vessel fire at North Florida Shipyards.

The exercise was meant to simulate a multi-agency response to a fire in the engine space of Sea Star Line container ship El Faro, docked at the shipyard, and was intended to test emergency response techniques and improve coordination and communication among the involved response agencies.

“Multiagency exercises such as this one are critical to our success as emergency responders, so we’re extremely grateful to the fire department for inviting us to participate and to North Florida Shipyards and Sea Star Lines for making their facilities available for this important exercise,” said Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Commander Captain Tom Allan. “Our ultimate goals are to test and improve our pre-existing contingency plans and ensure the safety of the public and responders in the event of similar incidents.”

Due to the location of the exercise, residents may have notice increased emergency response vessel traffic on the west side of the St. Johns River between the Mathews and Hart bridges and significant response agency presence near the entrance to North Florida Shipyards.

The exercises began at 10 a.m. at the North Florida Shipyards, located at 2060 East Adams St.