Helicopters, patrol boats and the sounds of practice ordnance were part of the daily commute for drivers crossing the Vincent Thomas Bridge over Los Angeles Harbor on Tuesday.

A full-scale emergency response exercise by the Coast Guard and other agencies simulated a threat to the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach, involving units on land, water and in the air. Public advisories before the exercise began assured locals that the send of blank gunfire and flash-bang grenades would just be practice around the bridge and container port.

The scenario was based on the Area Maritime Security Training and Exercise Program (AMSTEP) which aims to build relationships in the federal maritime security domain and update area maritime security planning. The Coast Guard has the lead in coordinating such exercises.

The March 7 maneuvers included participation from FBI, Los Angeles Port Police, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Los Angeles Fire Department, Long Beach Police Department and Long Beach Fire Department. Coast Guard officials said the goal is “to practice, evaluate, and make recommendations for enhancing response efforts within the port.”

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.