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Monday, August 13, 2007

Suspicious activity near cruise ship in Long Beach port

Odd goings on draws a crowd of security, albeit after the fact, as set out here:
A "suspicious" vessel was seen near a docked cruise ship in Long Beach today, a Coast Guard lieutenant said.

The Coast Guard received a report around 11:30 a.m. that the boat was within the 100-yard security zone around a Carnival Pride cruise ship, which was docked at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal, said Lt. Junior Grade Andrew Munoz of the Coast Guard.

Police, lifeguards, the Coast Guard and Long Beach Fire Department all responded immediately, he said.

The boat, a 15-to-18 foot metal skiff that was holding three males and a female, was seen in front of the cruise ship and along the cruise ship pier, Munoz said. The boat exited the area before law enforcement arrived.

The Port Operations Dive Group, which is composed of divers from U.S. Coast Guard, Long Beach Police, Long Beach Fire Department, Long Beach Lifeguards, Port of Los Angeles Police and Los Angeles Fire Department, searched the pier and cruise ship hull but did not find anything suspicious.

Federal regulations prohibit unauthorized persons and vessels from approaching within 100 yards of a docked cruise ship. Violations of the security zone, which extends to 200 yards in front of the cruise ship and 100 yards around the rest of the ship while underway, is a federal offense which can result in seizure and forfeiture of the vessel, fines of up to $32,500 and up to 10 years in prison.
More here:
U.S. Coast Guard divers inspected the hull of a cruise ship docked in Long Beach Harbor Sunday after several people reported having seen a small, suspicious boat floating nearby, authorities said.

Cruise ship officials called the Coast Guard at 11:30 a.m., after one of four people in the 18-foot skiff went into the water and pulled himself back out, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. j.g. Andrew Munoz said.

It is illegal for unauthorized people and boats to come within 100 yards of a docked cruise ship, Munoz said.

The regulation was implemented to avoid possible terrorist attacks on cruise ships.

The small boat and its occupants were no longer at the scene by the time police, firefighters, lifeguards and Coast Guard officers arrived.

Eleven divers inspected the hull of the ship with the aid of a remote-controlled, submersible camera as the ship's 2,576 passengers boarded.

Nothing suspicious was discovered, Munoz said.
Far better waterside security is needed than showing up after a "suspicious" boat has left the area if you are serious about preventing an attack on a cruise ship.

UPDATE: A little more information here:
The skiff was towing a small, bright orange inflatable dingy, and a witness said one of the boat's occupants had been in the water near the pier's pilings before getting back into the skiff, Munoz said.

UPDATE2: Port Security at Long Beach described here:
Security at the Port of Long Beach is the multi-jurisdictional responsibility of many government agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs & Border Protection, federal and state Homeland Security offices, Long Beach Police Department and the Port Harbor Patrol, which have the authority to access all facilities and cargo at the Port. All terminals must comply with the Federal Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.
Q: If everyone is in charge, does that mean no one is in charge? Why don't the cruise lines provide some security around their own ships? Even a couple of boats manned by armed security guards to warn off unauthorized boats would be useful.

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