By Don Ford

SAN FRANCISCO BAY (KPIX 5) — The big crowds that gather for Fleet Week in San Francisco also bring security concerns. On Friday KPIX 5 got a behind-the-scenes look at how a U.S. Coast Guard unit helped keep the Parade of Ships safe.

During Fleet Week, there’s a lot of ships and a lot of planes to see. But there is also another highly trained specialized military unit that hopes you do not see them.

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By special invitation, KPIX cameras got an exclusive and rare visit with the Coast Guard’s elite Maritime Security Response Team, known as the MSRT. They are quietly monitoring fleet week, watching to make sure everyone stays safe.

“The team, as you can see behind me, is ready to go immediately if a threat develops on the waterfront,” said Coast Guard MSRT Commanding Officer Captain Eric Cooper. “The team is designed to go out, engage the threat and protect the public so they can enjoy all the great things going on in San Francisco Fleet Week.”

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The team specializes in very close quarters, maritime-specific scenarios. Trained in counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, counter assault and “other stuff,” they stand as the muscle of the Coast Guard.

During the Parade of Ships arrival Friday, Some of the team demonstrated one way they board ships. This is usually done at night in darkness, but not always says Coast Guard MSRT Operator Connor Ligon.

“We are built to operate in a vast amount of environments whether it be raining, high wind, darkness,” said Ligon.

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If everything goes according to plan — and so far, it looks like it will — this elite Coast Guard team may not be needed at all this weekend. Which is just the way they like it.