Photos and story by: Matt Lyons for OsideNews
Oceanside CA– On October 7, 2014 Officer Brian Sundberg, who is assigned to Oceanside Police Department Harbor Division, responded to a “mayday” distress call involving a vessel needing assistance somewhere off the California coastline near Oceanside, California.
The small fishing boat’s engine had stalled out and left three anglers stranded in the middle of the ocean about three miles off shore and the Captain could not give an exact location. His marine radio was not working and his cell phone battery was running out. Fortunately, the water surface was calm, but a storm appeared to be moving in and this could reduce visibility and hinder attempts to locate the boaters. Officer Sundberg needed to start searching quickly while he had some visibility and the weather was still on his side.
Sundberg, a 27 year veteran police officer of the Oceanside Police Department – Harbor Division, said what might seem like a crisis to those stranded is just another day on the water for him if you remain calm. The Oceanside Police Department responds to hundreds of similar type calls for assistance from both the U.S. Coast Guard asking for mutual aid and the stranded boaters directly. Although Sundberg makes it look easy because of his years of experience and training, past incidents have shown us that rescuing people on the water can turn dangerous very quickly if not handled professionally.
Fortunately during this call for service, the boaters were promptly located. The relieved anglers and their boat were safely towed into the Oceanside Harbor; where Officer Sundberg conducted a vessel inspection and took this opportunity to educate them all on boating safety, marine rules & regulations. Officer Sundberg, a former high school biology teacher, would tell you it was just another day doing a job he loves and an opportunity to serve the community he cares about deeply.
As reported on the city’s web page, the Oceanside Police Department’s Harbor Division mission is to handle the emergency response element for Maritime Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Marine Firefighting, Emergency Towing and Salvage, Emergency Medical Aid and Scuba diving. Officers assigned to the Harbor Division are deployed on a 24-hour basis and respond to both emergency and non-emergency calls for service. The Oceanside Police Harbor Division remains the primary response vessel for over 37 miles of coastline, assisting in mutual aid calls for service from San Mateo Point to Del Mar.
Additionally, Oceanside Police Harbor officers are trained to respond with the city lifeguards on the city’s “Swift Water Rescue Team.” Currently, the Harbor Division consists of eight full-time officers, one reserve officer and is supervised by one sergeant, and one lieutenant within the Oceanside Police Department.
The important mission of the Oceanside Police Department Harbor Division and the need for these law enforcement professionals cannot be overstated when you consider that annually over 4 million people come to take advantage of 3.5 miles of white sandy, pristine beaches and visit the city of Oceanside, California. This does not include the 800,000 visitors who annually come to the Oceanside Harbor for the deep-sea fishing, whale watching, jet skiing, kayaking, and other water related recreational activities. It only makes sense that someone has to be standing the watch!
The officers, like Brian Sundberg, who make up the rank and file of this elite unit, do a great job of standing watch by protecting the community of Oceanside and some of California’s greatest natural resources.
Matt Lyons has contributed to several area newspapers and national online media outlets as a freelance writer. He has written on topics that involve human & community interest as well as selected topics related to law enforcement. He is the Author of: Images of America: Oceanside Police Department, Arcadia Publishing 2006. Additionally, he dabbles with freelance digital photography using cell phone cameras. After retiring from the United States Marine Corps, he and his family made California their home. They have been living and working in the local area since 1997.