Onboard with the Coast Guard: Bringing out the big guns to stop potential threats

Depending on your situation, hearing sirens and seeing the flashing lights of First Responders either brings a sense of relief or has you questioning your actions. News4JAX's Richard Nunn hopped aboard with a crew and got a look at their tools of safety and defense.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Over the last several months, News4JAX Meteorologist Richard Nunn has taken us on an adventure on the water -- to show us the important roles members of Coast Guard Station Mayport carry out daily to keep us safe and protect our waterways.

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“The Coast Guard’s primary mission anywhere you go is going to be search and rescue..we’re out here to save people in distress. So that’s our primary mission,” Coast Guard Maritime Enforcement Specialist Sean Gradin told Richard.

Stopping a potential threat happens in stages for the Coast Guard Station Mayport. (WJXT)

However, the Coast Guard also has law enforcement capabilities. While Richard has shown us everything from rescue operations to maintenance, he’s now giving us a closer look at how Coast Guard Station Mayport can stop a potential threat. He learned it happens in stages.

“So, the first step is officer presence,” Gradin explained. “The way you can think of that is when you see like maybe a police car parked on the side of the road. Even if there’s not an officer in there, you’re probably gonna slow down, hit the brakes a little bit if you’re speeding, right? So that’s kind of how we think about officer presence. That’s our appearance, our demeanor, and just being there and letting people know, ‘Hey, this is a security zone,’ or ‘This is a moving escort.’”

Gradin said if they don’t keep their distance, step two can involve a strategically placed warning shot.

If that doesn’t work, step three involves tactics to disrupt, like shouldering or riding alongside the vessel.

“Step four is a disabling fire,” he said.

With guidance from Gradin, Richard got a chance to pull the trigger.

While Richard has shown us everything from rescue operations to maintenance, he’s now giving us a closer look at how Coast Guard Station Mayport can stop a potential threat. He learned it happens in stages.

What you might not know about Coast Guard Station Mayport is that it’s a unique station.

“We’re a PWCS Level One Unit, which you don’t see that everywhere in the Coast Guard,” Gradin said. “That stands for ports, waterways, and coastal security. So, because we have the Port of Jacksonville, because we have so many high-value assets and the cruise ships and stuff like that, that’s what helped us get designated as a Level One.”