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Old 02-13-2017, 08:57 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

Project Jade Serenity is a supers/technothriller campaign set in the modern day, near midnight on Friday the 3rd of February 2017, our PCs are on Jewell Island in Casco Bay, Maine. In our campaign, there is a fictional mental institution there, the Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane, and it turns out that the guards are even crazier than the inmates.

Special Agent Danny O'Toole (PC), who is a federal law enforcement officer, was able to send out a distress call on the Coast Guard emergency frequency. He was cut off before receiving an answer, but he managed to get all the relevant information out, including the fact that officers were down and that his supervisory special agent was presumed to be kidnapped by the guards.*

Jewell Island is no more than 8 miles from Portland, which is a city, although only a fair-sized one at best. It would probably take far too long for any response by law enforcement in Portland to be relevant, especially as the island is federally owned and falls under the joint jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security.** Any municipal or state police officer handed a transcript of the distress call will probably respond by waking up senior officers, seeking guidance from political figures and/or handing the whole mess back to a federal agency anyway.

What I'm wondering is what the Coast Guard might do. I know that they have a station in South Portland, which extremely close to the island (less than six miles), but I can't find online how many men are assigned to that station. It may or may not be the home port of USCGC Marcus Hanna, a Keeper-class coastal buoy tender with a crew of 25, but I have no idea how to estimate whether the cutter is in port or if it may be located many hours sail away on a duty cruise.

I'd think that O'Toole's distress call warrants sending a cutter by to take a look and trying to raise him on the radio again. He was able to recite his badge number and any necessary code words that CBP agents might be given if they have to call for help over a radio. I don't know how long it will take to respond in some way, however.

I don't know what, if anything, the Coast Guard could do if they were unable to reach O'Toole again, because radio traffic in the building we are trapped in is being suppressed by a short-ranged jammer of some sort, which is powerful enough to reduce handheld radios to static noise.

I'd also like to get some idea of what the closest Coast Guard cutter can do and how it is equipped. Would the Marcus Hanna respond or might they respond in some other way, perhaps with a cutter stationed somewhat further away, but with a law enforcement function?

Would whoever responded be able to tell that radio communications on the island are being jammed? Could they see from where? Could they do something about the jamming?

How would they react to being fired upon from the observation towers by .50 BMG and 40mm grenades from an MK 19? Do they have anything to shoot back with or are they limited to short-ranged smallarms for a boarding party?

How long would it take to get an armed cutter that could provide covering fire and land a tactical team or at least a pretty heavily armed boarding party on the island?

What needs to happen for them to be able to call in helicopters and how long would that take? How long to get helicopters that are armed or at least could deliver sniper fire that would suppress heavy weapons fire from the observation towers long enough for the helicopters to land armed people with arrest powers?

*Who might actually count as being in a state of mutiny, as several of them are USAR, Coast Guard Reserve or Maine Army National Guard, and they are actually under contract to the Federal Protective Service. As the fictional compound on the island includes a defunct Coast Guard forward base that is still officially classed as a mothballed facility under their administration, with a dock that receives regular visits from a Coast Guard cutter, it may even be that some of the guards who are former Coast Guards serve some days on active duty on the minimal administrative and maintainance tasks related to keeping the dock facilities usable.
**Because of the Coast Guard base there and also because the site used to be a black facility for unethical DoD experiments and while the outcry within government circles when this came to (limited) light wasn't enough to expose it to the public, it sufficed to quietly strongarm the DoD into closing down the experiments and allowing the bureaucrats who had made some discoveries to remove the sites from DoD control.
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Old 02-13-2017, 09:58 AM   #2
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

Having visited USCG cutters in NYC during fleet week I know that they will have at least 1 .50 BMG.
Many cutters will have a 20mm cannon (or larger) in a bow turret and a .50 BMG on port & starbord mountings (with gun shields). They will have lots of pistols and some M-16 family rifles. Maybe a few shotguns too.
Most coast guard stations & many cutters will have a helicopter too.
The helicopter will have a door mounted medium machine gun.
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Old 02-13-2017, 10:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
In a campaign set in the modern day, near midnight on Friday the 3rd of February 2017, our PCs are on Jewell Island in Casco Bay, Maine. In our campaign, there is a fictional mental institution there, the Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane, and it turns out that the guards are even crazier than the inmates.
So it's a Federal prison? There is already a response plan in place for a prison uprising or similar disaster then. Everybody probably just moves on that, whatever it is. If it's something else, then it's not under Federal jurisdiction anymore, or you couldn't have put a state or private facility there.
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Old 02-13-2017, 10:14 AM   #4
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

Do they carry an on-board sharpshooter? I should think there are more occasions for that then all that heavy stuff.
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Old 02-13-2017, 10:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
So it's a Federal prison? There is already a response plan in place for a prison uprising or similar disaster then. Everybody probably just moves on that, whatever it is. If it's something else, then it's not under Federal jurisdiction anymore, or you couldn't have put a state or private facility there.
It's a federal mental health facility with many of the characteristics of a maximum security prison, protected by DHS FPS contractors who are mostly the former Army and Coast guard personnel from when there was a secret research facility (with garrison) co-located with the asylum.

Unfortunately, the response plan for a prison uprising relies on an SRT team among the (still pretty large) guard force who are reservists, auxiliary Coast Guard, part-time agents or similar, commanded by an Inspector from the FPS with badge and arrest powers.

We haven't seen the Inspector yet, but we're pretty sure the SRT are the guys in vests with longarms hunting our characters to cover up the criminal conspiracy of Warden Tyrrell. Who prefers King Tyrrell and might, frankly, be several beers short of a six-pack. He's been laying in supplies for a siege amd refers to the federal agents who asked to talk to Ms. Bell, an inmate, as 'traitors come to steal that which is most precious to us, our beloved Queen.'

The orderlies are saying that little Sherilyn Bell made the guards cuckoo-clock with her mind-games, but they're clearly overreacting. Obviously, an attractive female inmate might lead to unethical and irrational behaviour among the guard force, but if anything, that would make her a victim, not an instigator of violence. Sure, she might have used social engineering and manipulation as a defence mechanism, especially as she had been placed in a desperate situation where she had no other means of protection, but blaming her for everyone going post-apocalyptic raider gang nuts is just alarmist. And victim blaming.

Anyway, long story short, whatever standard response plan to an uprising at Manhanock might have been once, the guards who ought to be calling for backup will be trying to prevent anyone else from being called in.

Come to think of it, I'd bet good money that as part of the island is still classed as a Coast Guard station, any response larger than the island guard force will include some contribution from the Coast Guard.
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Old 02-13-2017, 10:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Do they carry an on-board sharpshooter? I should think there are more occasions for that then all that heavy stuff.
Good question. I know that the Coast Guard employs such people and they tend to carry an M14 Tactical (EBR stock, but 22" barrel), but I have no idea whether one will be on board the USCGC Marcus Hanna or whatever other vehicle happens to be closest to hand to come check out the wildly fantastic (but correctly delivered, with appropriate Electronis Ops and Savoir-Faire) distress call.
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Old 02-13-2017, 11:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
It's a federal mental health facility with many of the characteristics of a maximum security prison, protected by DHS FPS contractors who are mostly the former Army and Coast guard personnel from when there was a secret research facility (with garrison) co-located with the asylum.

Unfortunately, the response plan for a prison uprising relies on an SRT team among the (still pretty large) guard force who are reservists, auxiliary Coast Guard, part-time agents or similar, commanded by an Inspector from the FPS with badge and arrest powers.

We haven't seen the Inspector yet, but we're pretty sure the SRT are the guys in vests with longarms hunting our characters to cover up the criminal conspiracy of Warden Tyrrell. Who prefers King Tyrrell and might, frankly, be several beers short of a six-pack. He's been laying in supplies for a siege amd refers to the federal agents who asked to talk to Ms. Bell, an inmate, as 'traitors come to steal that which is most precious to us, our beloved Queen.'

The orderlies are saying that little Sherilyn Bell made the guards cuckoo-clock with her mind-games, but they're clearly overreacting. Obviously, an attractive female inmate might lead to unethical and irrational behaviour among the guard force, but if anything, that would make her a victim, not an instigator of violence. Sure, she might have used social engineering and manipulation as a defence mechanism, especially as she had been placed in a desperate situation where she had no other means of protection, but blaming her for everyone going post-apocalyptic raider gang nuts is just alarmist. And victim blaming.

Anyway, long story short, whatever standard response plan to an uprising at Manhanock might have been once, the guards who ought to be calling for backup will be trying to prevent anyone else from being called in.

Come to think of it, I'd bet good money that as part of the island is still classed as a Coast Guard station, any response larger than the island guard force will include some contribution from the Coast Guard.
It might be a former shore battery station in it's backstory. That would explain why it got converted into a prison. Lighthouse posts are to picturesque and either have already been turned into museums or have someone raising money to. Just not the place to do something like that.

There is precedent for that too. Fortresses often get transformed into prisons and Alcatraz was a shore battery post too. There are a number of battery stations on the East Coast dating from the Jeffersonian defense policy.

The Coast Guard Post may have come through normal accretion and bureaucratic bargaining. Perhaps they begged off a base from the Army during Prohibition?
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Old 02-13-2017, 11:15 AM   #8
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Originally Posted by jason taylor View Post
It might be a former shore battery station in it's backstory. That would explain why it got converted into a prison. Lighthouse posts are to picturesque and either have already been turned into museums or have someone raising money to. Just not the place to do something like that.

There is precedent for that too. Fortresses often get transformed into prisons and Alcatraz was a shore battery post too.
It is. Jewell Island is a real island, one where there were real bunkers, observation towers and ashore battery in WWII (after the federal government took it over from the former inhabitants).

In real life, the battery never received guns. In-setting, the black facility/ultra-max asylum received some MGs and other crew-served infantry weapons for the observation towers... and if we are really unlucky, maybe even some real heavy weapons for the concrete shore battery, to defend the base from a swiftboat raid during the Cold War or something equally unlikely.

The fictional asylum uses the floor plan for Danvers State Hospital, which we just declared was there in our alternate reality and plopped on a suitable empty space on the island, near the observation towers. In setting, it's a fictional satellite facility from St. Elizabeths, where the less ethical aspects of that federal mental institution were moved once it became bad PR to experiment on mental patients without consent within walking distance from Congress, the White House and most federal agencies. In... the 70s or so.
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Old 02-14-2017, 02:30 AM   #9
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Originally Posted by Tinman View Post
Having visited USCG cutters in NYC during fleet week I know that they will have at least 1 .50 BMG.
Many cutters will have a 20mm cannon (or larger) in a bow turret and a .50 BMG on port & starbord mountings (with gun shields). They will have lots of pistols and some M-16 family rifles. Maybe a few shotguns too.
Most coast guard stations & many cutters will have a helicopter too.
The helicopter will have a door mounted medium machine gun.
Thanks, that's useful.

So Coast Guard helicopters are always armed, even if primarily intended for search and rescue? Even if there is no helicopter in South Portland, Portsmouth base is only some 65 miles away, a short hop for a helicopter.

I'd think having a cutter sail a few miles is probably cheaper than spinning up a chopper, as I'd think that the distress call caused them alarm, but wasn't in itself enough to justify planning and executing a full-scale assault on Jewell Island. After all, there is a guard force there working on contract for the federal government, some of whose members are even Coast Guard Reserve or Auxiliary.

And while none of the guards can be reached by radio, no more than the federal agent, O'Toole, who radioed in saying that the guards had attacked him and kidnapped his boss, the Warden will be assuring them by phone that things are fine. I don't know how he'll explain O'Toole's distress call or the fact that neither O'Toole nor his boss, Banks, are available to speak with (the OIG of the DHS will confirm that the agents are on the island), nor how he'll explain that there's a jammer preventing radios from working (in case that the Coast Guard can detect the white-noise jamming).
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Old 02-14-2017, 03:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

I'd expect that if the Coast Guard personnel are locals or have been there a while that there will be at least a few hunters among them. So the second trip might bring along hunting rifles that have more range then the issue M-16s.
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