SACKETS HARBOR, N.Y. (WWTI) — The North Country’s Coast Guard unit responsible for pollution control and safety response is moving.

U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Massena confirmed earlier this month that it will relocate its staff from Massena, New York to the Fort Drum military installation.

According to the Marine Safety Detachment’s Lieutenant Commander Carrier Foster, this will centralize the unit to where there are more calls: The Thousand Islands region.

“100% of our inspected small passenger vessels in the Clayton and Alexandria Bay area,” Lt. Co. Foster said. “The area also has robust tourism and recreational vessel activity. Which contributes to about 80% of our pollution response and marine casualty investigations in that area as well.”

MSD Massena is specifically responsible for pollution response, marine casualty investigations, marine event permitting, ballast water regulatory reviews and more.

The unit said the move to Fort Drum will help officers catch more illegal activity.

“We are seeing an increase in illegal passenger vessel operations and un-certified tug and barge operations,” Foster explained. “So being located in this area will allow us to identify those operators and educate them on the important safety requirements, holding them accountable when necessary.”

The unit’s area of responsibility extends south from the St. Lawrence River International Bridge, along the U.S.-Canada border to Henderson Harbor, New York. It also extends 3.25 miles east from the international board.

However, all search and rescue missions fall under Coast Guard Alexandria Bay which is stationed on Wellesley Island.

So because MSD Massena is shore-based, its relocation to Fort Drum will not change its abilities in emergency situations.

“The vast majority of our operations are conducted on land or on board vessels that are moored to a pier,” Foster said. “So we simply use our vehicle to meet with our marine industry partners. In the event that we do need to access a vessel that’s underway, we partner with our neighboring unit at station Alexandria Bay or other federal and state partners for access to those vessels.”

MSD Massen is temporarily located in Sackets Harbor. However, it plans to have the entire unit of 10 officers moved to Fort Drum by the end of 2023.

Once the relocation is complete, the unit will change its name to Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Thousand Islands.