ISS2 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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PSU 309 staff and officers. (U.S. Coast Guard photo) More port security units would follow as the need for these specialized units increased in the theater of operations. On February 17th, Tacoma, Washington- based PSU 313 out-loaded from McCord Air Force Base and began its journey to the Middle East. As with PSU 311, PSU 313 shipped its equipment, boats, vehicles and ammunition on board cargo aircraft, while the personnel flew on board chartered jets. 313 arrived in Kuwait at the same time as 311 and received orders to set-up operations at the Kuwaiti commercial port of Ash Shuaybah. The Coast Guard's Atlantic Area (LANTAREA) assigned one of its PSUs to support OIF operations in the Mediterranean. In late January 2003, PSU 309, based in Port Clinton, Ohio, received orders for deployment and, on February 5th, it began an epic journey that included several different aircraft with stops in Kentucky, North Carolina and Ireland before arriving at Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily, Italy. After it arrived in Sicily, PSU 309 prepared to maintain security for a NATO pier facility in Augusta Bay, where inbound Coast Guard patrol cutters would berth. 309's operational status remained on hold temporarily, but by the end of February its members and assets had arrived in the theater of operations. At 8:00 p.m. in the evening of March 19th, Coalition forces initiated OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM combat operations with the launch of Tomahawk Missiles against specific targets in Baghdad. Coalition naval units began operations early the next morning. An amphibious force composed largely of British Royal Marines initiated an amphibious assault against Iraqi defenses on the Al Faw Peninsula, the location of a large number of Iraqi oil facilities. These landings would represent the largest amphibious operation of its kind carried out since the Korean War. Before these amphibious operations could begin, however, Coalition forces had to secure the Iraqi gas and oil platforms of Khor al-Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT) and Mina al Bakr Oil Terminal (MABOT). Coalition forces collectively termed these gas and oil platforms as "GOPLATs." The mission to capture the GOPLATs had been planned well in advance. While the typical mission of a Coast Guard PSU is to secure port facilities, NCWG One chose to use the port security units to hold the oil terminals, thereby freeing up SEALs and Marine Corps units for combat operations. After the terminals had been cleared of Iraqi troops, explosives and weapons, PSUs 311 and 313 arrived to take control of the facilities. The port security unit crews boarded eight twenty-five-foot security boats and set out from the Kuwait Naval Base (KNB) an hour after SEAL assault forces had secured the GOPLATs. During the passage, the PSU boats met the U.S. Army's large landing craft MECHANICSVILLE and formed up in close formation near her to complete their transit to the oil facilities. MECHANICSVILLE stopped first at KAAOT to deploy members of PSU 311 and its Issue 2 • 2017 � RESERVIST 27

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