WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska Aerospace Corporation have successfully completed an exercise to validate the use of NNSA Aerial Measuring System (AMS) sensing equipment on board a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter based at Air Station Kodiak, Alaska.
The sophisticated AMS radiation detection systems NNSA deployed in the exercise are used for finding lost sources, like specialized industrial devices, or for responding to a radiological emergency, such as the 2011 nuclear power plant accident in Japan. The AMS is one of several capabilities that NNSA maintains to assist state and local governments in response to nuclear and radiological accidents or incidents. More information on AMS can be found here.
The exercise provided an opportunity for NNSA to evaluate its ability to use the AMS equipment on Coast Guard aircraft in support of homeland security and public safety. It was also an opportunity to execute a real-time deployment and coordinate effectively with another government agency with no advance notice. At no time during the exercise was there any threat to the public from the radioactive sources used to test the detection equipment.
Air Station Kodiak operations officer, Cmdr. Mark Vislay, said, “The Department of Energy was the lead for the exercise with our full cooperation. Successful testing and use of this equipment aboard our helicopters increases the capabilities of both agencies and allows for increased readiness throughout the nation.”
NNSA’s Office of Emergency Operations, which sponsored the cooperative exercise with the Coast Guard, is the U.S. government’s primary capability for radiological and nuclear emergency response in support of FBI, Department of Defense, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and state, tribal and local governments. The Office of Emergency Operations maintains a high level of readiness through the development, implementation and coordination of highly trained personnel and equipment designed to serve as a last line of defense in the event of a nuclear terrorist incident or radiological accident.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.