Naval militia conducts drills on Seneca Lake
SENECA LAKE--Members of the New York Naval Militia staged exercises on July 15 and 16 on Seneca Lake using the Scouts Camp Babcock-Hovey, near Ovid, as a base. During the exercise, Naval Militia boats and personnel simulated post-storm response actions while taking part in a larger radio communications exercise involving sources from across the state.
"Exercises like Empire Challenge provide our Naval Militia members with opportunities to practice skills that would be required in an actual emergency response," said Naval Militia Rear Admiral Larry Weill, the commander of the New York Naval Militia.
Started before the Spanish American War, The New York Naval Militia currently has 2,800 current Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Reserve members who have agreed to dual serve in the Naval Militia as well as in their federal military reserve unit. The New York Naval Militia serves as a component of the New York Military Forces along with the Army and Air National Guard and the New York Guard.
"It is composed mostly of federal reserve forces and they agree to serve simultaneously, so it is a dual membership thing, so when they don't have federal duty they can do state active duty and assist in operations like during the COVID-19 response," said Eric Durr, spokesman for the New York Naval Militia.
Durr said that through the naval militia, the state can benefit from people trained by the federal government in an assortment of different activities.
The naval militia operates the Military Emergency Boat Service, a fleet of 11 boats that conduct missions in support of New York state, the Coast Guard, and other federal and local law enforcement agencies.
With about 100 people across the state participating in the exercise, one drill tested communication and the short-wave emergency radio network operated by the New York Guard. The other simulated rescuing people who have been blown into the St. Lawrence River during a storm. The "victims" were recovered in the river and then transported onshore and turned over to members of the Navy Reserve Medical Training Unit, based in Portsmouth, Virginia, for treatment.
The boats were initially trailered to Sampson State Park and launched there, however they also traveled up Seneca Lake into the Erie Canal, and from there, to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River to Alexandria Bay to conduct a rescue drill with the United States Coast Guard and Navy Reserve.
"The training on Seneca Lake will be unique in that our people will be [testing] three new means of radio communications, which is always one of the biggest challenges in any operational environment," added Weill.