Operation Peeking Duck: Training for an Oil Spill

By KBJR News 1

August 29, 2013 Updated Aug 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The Duluth Superior harbor has been a-buzz with boatloads of law enforcement officers these past two days and it's catching the attention of a lot of people on shore.

The call has just come in that a ship has run aground on Bird Island in the Duluth Superior Harbor.

Oil is leaking so Petty Officer Shafik Elm's Coast Guard response boat speeds to the scene. He makes good time even though this is only a drill called "Operation Peeking Duck"

"Peeking Duck refers to the dual nature of the exercise," says LT Bill Fitzgerald of the U.S. Coast Guard.

"Peeking" with two E's means the security part of the drill. The duck deals with the environmental clean up portion.

It's an all hands on deck drill for the Coast Guard from auxiliarists at boat landings to active duty personnel unloading supplies and manning the communication station. Also on board are law enforcement and rescue agencies from Minnesota and Wisconsin plus federal and tribal officials.

"Each agency has its own way of dealing with incidents and everything," says PA3 Christopher Yaw of the U.S. Coast Guard.

That's why they're working together to practice the common language of the incident command system.

"We're using plain language these days," says Duane Oothoudt of the Leech Lake EMS. "No more ten codes because they can be different from region to region."

Out on the water, Petty Officer Shafik Elm's crew is pleased to be working with other agencies in a joint operation.

"It's a good learning experience for the all the agencies to get together," says MK2 Joshua Gomez of the U.S. Coast Guard.

And a little bit of fun on the water for the Coasties.

"It is fun but it's a lot of hard work, too," says Elm. "It's a mix of both."

By the end of the drill, Petty Officer Elm says he was very proud of the contribution of his crew.

"Amazing. Fantastic. Every single one of them are top notch guys."

Dave Anderson