NEWS | March 27, 2012

Changes lead to better waterfront security

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Brannon Deugan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs Office

Joint Base Charleston's 628th Security Forces Squadron personnel are working to create new guidelines for the Harbor Patrol Unit at JB Charleston - Weapons Station that will satisfy both Air Force and Navy requirements for waterfront security operations.

The new Air Force operating instructions will be written to incorporate new Navy requirements which require the HPU to function as its own section within the 628th SFS.
"I'm very excited about this opportunity," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ben Watrous, 628th SFS, HPU coxswain. "HPU is a facet of Air Force security that few air bases have and even fewer Air Force personnel ever get the opportunity to be involved with. This is a chance to do something that is generally only done by special operations in the Air Force, but in this joint base environment, it creates a new opportunity for Airmen."

According to Watrous and Petty Officer 1st Class William Carmer, 628th SFS HPU leading petty officer, incorporating the new Navy instruction into a cohesive 628th SFS operating instruction has been a complex task due to the differences in terminology.

"Writing the guidelines have been challenging because of the differences in the Air Force and Navy cultures and terminologies, but we have been working it and it has been coming together very nicely," said Carmer. "The Navy realized they need personnel whose sole job is to maintain security and law enforcement on the waterfront.

"Waterfront security is different from patrolling on land. You can be a seasoned patrolman, but once you get on a boat it is a completely different operating environment and different principals apply," Carmer continued. "All of those things necessitate a completely different mindset."

The Navy instructions require all Sailors to complete the Navy's Personnel Qualification Standard, an established guideline already used by Sailors Navy-wide, before being allowed to operate a harbor patrol boat. The 628th SFS has adopted the Navy's PQS as additional training for Airmen and civilians, to better prepare them for their security mission in the HPU.

"Last year, the Navy came out with clear guidance on what they require for waterfront security operations," said Chief Petty Officer Vince Stephens, JB Charleston - Weapons Station 628th SFS senior enlisted advisor. "Under joint basing, the HPU is a function of the 628th SFS, but it will be a separate section within security forces."

The 628th SFS HPU will also be designated with its own Unit Identification Code. As such, in the future, only Sailors with the required Navy Enlisted Classification code will be able to be assigned to the 628th SFS HPU.

"When I get a new Sailor, they will already be qualified for the HPU," said Stephens. "They'll have their swim and boat qualifications. I'll verify they have all their required qualifications dictated by their NEC. The Sailors reporting here will have already conducted waterfront operations, so I expect them to be able to jump right in and conduct daily operations with no problems."

"This process of establishing the Air Force operating instructions that coincide with Navy requirements is a great example of JB Charleston teamwork," Stephens concluded. "The hard work and dedication that the 628th SFS HPU Airmen and Sailors have displayed creating the foundation for the unit to move forward has been astonishing."