Open House – Orange County Sheriff Harbor Patrol
Celebrating 40 Years
For 2015, the BYC Wooden Boat Festival joins with the Orange County Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol’s 40 year anniversary Open House event. Walk from dock to dock along the waterfront, visiting classic wooden ships and the finest rescue, firefighting and law enforcement boats on the water.
View static displays of OC Sheriff’s capabilities including:
- Bomb Squad
- Dive Team
- K-9 Units
- Mounted Units (pending)
The Harbor Patrol/Marine Operations Bureau provides around-the-clock law enforcement, marine fire fighting and search/rescue services along the 48 miles of Orange County coastline and within the county’s three major harbors at Newport Beach, Sunset-Huntington and Dana Point. In response to increased concerns about potential terrorism after the events of September 11, 2001, this bureau became part of the department’s Homeland Security Division. Deputies are on heightened alert to any possibility of terrorist activity, and constantly monitor potential targets within the harbors and along the county coastline. Marine Operations works closely with local and federal government agencies, sharing information for the detection and prevention of suspected acts of terrorism.
Marine Operations is overseen by the captain of the OCSD Homeland Security Division. The bureau is staffed by a lieutenant who serves as county Harbormaster, seven sergeants, and 40 deputy sheriffs. Dispatchers and clerical staff provide vital support, along with a marine maintenance team consisting of one supervisor, four marine mechanics, two marine painters, and one marine carpenter.
Lieutenant Mike Jansen is the Harbormaster, overseeing daily operations. Sergeant David Ginther serves as the Assistant Harbormaster. The station commanders for the outlying harbors are Sergeant Fritz Von Rettberg at Sunset/Huntington Harbor and Sergeant Mike Scalise at Dana Point Harbor.
Facilities & Equipment
The Newport Beach office serves as the headquarters for the Marine operations Bureau and also as an official reporting station for the National Weather Service as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The 7,000 square foot Harbor Patrol Headquarters building contains an emergency operations center, conference and training rooms, a marine maintenance facility, and a state-of-the-art 800 MHz dispatch area. This dispatch center also serves as a backup for the county’s primary dispatch facility at Loma Ridge.
The Marine Operations fleet consists of six twin-engine fireboats and nine single-engine patrol boats. The fleet is completely maintained “in-house” by the bureau’s highly skilled marine mechanics and craftsmen. The maintenance staff consists of one supervisor, four marine mechanics, two marine painters, and one marine carpenter.
Personnel & Training
The OCSD Marine Operations Bureau sets the standards in training, equipment and service by which harbor patrol operations are measured throughout the State of California. Marine Operations deputies are fully trained peace officers and have typically worked street patrol and other assignments prior to their selection for the bureau. Deputies assigned to Marine Operations must work at least one year as a street patrol officer before being eligible for transfer to the bureau. Upon transfer, new deputies receive nearly 480 hours of training including marine firefighting, navigation, precision boat-handling, search and rescue, heavy weather boat operations, and advanced first aid, including the administering of oxygen and the use of automated external defibrillators.
After successful completion of this training period, deputies must then work to obtain a State of California, Department of Boating & Waterways Masters Certificate in Open Water Rescue and Enforcement. This is the highest professional marine rescue & enforcement certificate that can be issued in this state and requires an additional 296 hours of training, as well as one year of on-the-job experience. In addition, Marine Operations deputies are trained in environmental law and are qualified as “First Responders” to hazardous material spills both within the harbors and along the coastline of Orange County.
Deputies in the bureau practice a “service-oriented” approach to their duties, and routinely participate in community events and activities in the harbors. Some of these activities include boating education classes for youth and adults, tours, safety inspections, and wildlife rescues.
The Marine Operations Bureau also provides the services of the Underwater Search and Recovery Team for the varied duties of evidence and body recoveries, boating accident investigation on sunken or damaged vessels, and emergency inspections. With ongoing threats of terrorist activities targeting small and large harbors, the need for a fully equipped team ready to respond at any time has become essential. The dive team is also utilized for inspection of large vessels and docks for prevention of possible terrorist acts.
Our dive team is available to every agency in Orange County in all waters located within the county. With over 78 bodies of water with all levels of biohazards, contaminants and pollution in those waters, fully encapsulating dry suits and full face communications masks are essential in providing the protection for the diver during assorted tasks such as gathering evidence, recovering deceased victims, inspecting sunken boats with fuel hazards, or homeland security assignments.
The team consists of eleven divers who are trained in underwater search and recovery operations, hazardous device recognition, underwater post-blast investigations, vessel maintenance and swift water rescues. The team often assists in investigations conducted by the sheriff’s department and a variety of outside agencies. In addition to the eleven regular members of the unit, three members of the Hazardous Devices Team are cross-trained and respond alongside the dive team for any explosives devices located in the water.
The recent addition of dry suits, a remote operated vehicle (ROV), and submersible sonar equipment has enabled the unit to safely respond to hazardous or contaminated situations in the ocean, harbors, lakes, streams, or ponds of Orange County.