Deep in the backwoods of southeastern Virginia, the U.S. Coast Guard’s premier tactical law enforcement team quietly goes about training for their unique mission set.

The primary mission of the Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) is counter-terrorism in maritime environments, both domestic and overseas. The team is trained as a first responder to terrorist situations, specifically to deny terrorist acts, board and secure hostile vessels, and serve as subject matter experts in counterterrorism operations to educate and train the rest of the Coast Guard.

As the Coast Guard’s only offensively oriented counter-terrorist team, they have a critical role in the Department of Homeland Security’s maritime defense strategy.

MSRT recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, and is the result of a number of fundamental changes to Coast Guard doctrine that occurred following 9/11.

Following a number of assessments and reorganizations within the Coast Guard to better address the threat of terrorism to American ports and waterways, the ‘Deployable Operations Group’ (DOG) was stood up in 2007. This command consisted of multiple units all designed to support tactical operations, and could be tailored and deployed worldwide to meet mission requirements.

The DOG consisted of Port Security Units, Tactical Law Enforcement Teams (TACLET), Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST), an early form of MSRT, and the National Strike Force (NSF). These units still exist within the Coast Guard, but have had their capabilities and composition scaled since the DOG was formally disbanded in 2013.

Image courtesy of Coast Guard News


Following the dissolution of the DOG, MSRT was headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, and has been deployed consistently throughout the United States and overseas for a variety of missions. Within the United States, MSRT has primarily assisted in high visibility and high threat events as part of a larger government security force package.