Coast Guard Capt. Chris Scraba has wary eye on hurricanes as he directs maritime safety, security and pollution response
In his first weekend as head of the Coast Guard's Sector Miami, Capt. Christopher Scraba dealt with 33 cases in South Florida waters, 17 law enforcement and 16 pollution incidents.
But when he took over in late June, predecessors and superiors told him Miami is a "dynamic" sector and to expect to regularly deal with drug traffickers, immigrants looking to come to the US and pollution issues.
His responsibility includes nearly 200 miles of South Florida shoreline and 2,500 nautical square miles of the Atlantic. Under his command are four stations stretching from Miami Beach to Fort Pierce. Thousands of volunteers and Coast Guard rank and file and millions of dollars worth of ships and resources are at his disposal.
His missions are "maritime safety, maritime security and what we call maritime pollution response and prevention." And though one might expect the Coast Guard in Miami to have been intimately involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, Capt. Scraba said it was important to not lose focus on one of the biggest, longest-standing threats to South Florida: hurricanes.
"Forty percent of the gasoline for Florida, oil, fuel, gas comes in through Port Everglades, 45% comes into Tampa/St. Petersburg. Those two ports are extremely critical to the environmental and economic livelihood of Florida," he pointed out. "What keeps me up at night is the potential for a hurricane and closing down a port. My job is to try to open up this port and get the maritime transportation system back up and running as soon as possible."
Capt. Scraba discussed his job in Miami, the Coast Guard's collaboration with the Bahamian government and the hundreds of millions worth of new ships the Coast Guard is to receive in coming months in its Miami Beach facilities with Miami Today staff writer Zachary S. Fagenson
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