View Full Version : Small Boat threat along the US coast

04-28-2008, 02:04 PM
To stave off terror, feds issue safety strategy for boaters

WASHINGTON (AP) — As boating season approaches, the Bush administration wants to enlist the country's 80 million recreational boaters to help reduce the chances that a small boat could deliver a nuclear or radiological bomb somewhere along the country's 95,000 miles of coastline and inland waterways.

According to an April 23 intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press, "The use of a small boat as a weapon is likely to remain al-Qaida's weapon of choice in the maritime environment, given its ease in arming and deploying, low cost, and record of success."

On Monday officials will announce the plan, which asks states to develop and enforce safety standards for recreational boaters and asks them to look for and report suspicious behavior on the water — much like a neighborhood watch program. The government will also look to develop technology that will help detect dangerous materials and other potential warning signs.

04-28-2008, 05:51 PM
I'm actually very glad to see something like this - the government asking people to prepare themselves and work for their own security, rather than a neurotic population screaming about how vulnerable we are. Ok, that statement was a bit over the top, but for those who didn't see it, this article from the previous Foreign Affairs outlined the lack of resiliency of our population pretty well:

America the Resilient
Defying Terrorism and Mitigating Natural Disasters
By Stephen E. Flynn

From Foreign Affairs , March/April 2008

When it comes to managing the hazards of the twenty-first century, it is reckless to relegate the American public to the sidelines. During the Cold War, the threat of nuclear weapons placed the fate of millions in the hands of a few. But responding to today's challenges, the threats of terrorism and natural disasters, requires the broad engagement of civil society. The terrorists' chosen battlegrounds are likely to be occupied by civilians, not soldiers. And more than the loss of innocent lives is at stake: a climate of fear and a sense of powerlessness in the face of adversity are undermining faith in American ideals and fueling political demagoguery. Sustaining the United States' global leadership and economic competitiveness ultimately depends on bolstering the resilience of its society. Periodically, things will go badly wrong. The United States must be prepared to minimize the consequences of those eventualities and bounce back quickly.

Resilience has historically been one of the United States' great national strengths. It was the quality that helped tame a raw continent and then allowed the country to cope with the extraordinary challenges that occasionally placed the American experiment in peril. From the early settlements in Virginia and Massachusetts to the westward expansion, Americans willingly ventured into the wild to build better lives. During the epic struggles of the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the two world wars; occasional economic downturns and the Great Depression; and the periodic scourges of earthquakes, epidemics, floods, and hurricanes, Americans have drawn strength from adversity. Each generation bequeathed to the next a sense of confidence and optimism about the future.

But this reservoir of self-sufficiency is being depleted.

More at link. . .




Ken White
04-28-2008, 06:56 PM
Pretty sad indictment of the big-government, entitlement base, dependency building structure that we have become in the last 75 years. I wonder what could have caused that... ;)

05-01-2008, 03:56 AM
Initially the government considered creating a federal license for recreational boat operators, but that informal proposal was immediately shot down by boating organizations. Coast Guard and homeland security officials have toured the country in the past year to sound out the boating industry and its enthusiasts. While the government insists there will be no federal license, the strategy suggests that the government consider registering and regulating recreational boats.

There are about 18 million small boats in the country, contributing to a $39.5 billion industry, according to a 2006 estimate from the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Fetterman and his officers regularly get intelligence reports about unknown or unrecognized boaters taking pictures of a bridge or measurements of a dam. But he says there just aren't enough officers on the water to address every report.

The only way to police the waterfront, says maritime security expert Stephen Flynn, "is to get as many of the participants who are part of that community to be essentially on your side." Flynn, a fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, says treating boaters as allies rather than as a threat will go a long way.

There seems to be no limit to the stupidity and passionate hunger for power and regulation of bureaucracies the world over.

It looks like the boating community dodged a bullet with federal licencing regulations, although exactly how a licence (state or federal) is going to prevent the theft and illegal use of a vessel is beyond me. As for a Port Security Hotline, good idea, we have had one here for years.

But then again, if you lived in Australia, you would have the pleasure of paying $182.00 every two years for a new aviation security identification card, like I do, in addition to my medical and flight review, to prove that I am not about to fly my Cessna into a building, and maritime workers have the same charge visited on them every five years to prove they aren't going to run their ships into bridges.

There is no end to the potential threats to infrastructure that can come from the possession of any tool what so ever. So the threat is now a Bayliner loaded to the gunnels with C4? When are they going to regulate the possession of SUV's? Why not legislate against possession of Oxy - Acetylene welding equipment without a licence? Half an hour of undetected use of a cutting torch and most bridges, pipelines and power transmission systems are junk. Why not legislate against possession of SCUBA equipment? You can get at a ship undetected that way.

To put it another way, any article is a weapon in the hands of someone bent on doing mischief. Why single out boaters, and how is identification and licencing going to prevent illegal use? This is yet another kneejerk reaction to sooth the public, at the expense of a group of people, from a silly Department.

Every time one of these new restrictions on personal freedom is enacted, Osama Bin Laden laughs out loud.

05-01-2008, 04:30 AM
The move to require licensing started in the 1900's when Chapman started the United States Power Squadron. A naval officer the idea for Chapman was to take the gentleman sport of yachting and professionalize it. The six pack and 100 ton certifications for captain were the primary results but not until the 1960s (I believe). The Coast Guard Reserve (first sea based military roots) took over from the Power Squadron (civilian "navy" roots) much of the training program. Every ten or so years there is a move to do so again. With jet-skis and personal water craft the move had legs for awhile. However, since the days of Hershoff and others there has been a substantial "right" of maritime law applied and the treaties have protected boaters.

The reality is that the maritime threat is real and easily proved by the movement of narcotics across the border. The mechanisms though that are being tried (like registration and licensure) are abysmal left handed tax grabs that will do nothing to fix the problem. A dastardly dude (say "pirate" just for fun) would simply drive a container vessel into a super tanker. With most commercial haulers having tiny crews of dubious nature that plot has some legs. Vessel traffic control in most harbors is plotting for the everybody does everything right picture not the "hey look out" picture. Look at the list of maritime accidents and parse out the ones that appear "strange" and you have some ammunition.

05-01-2008, 03:05 PM
Traditional maritime security efforts have primarily focused on large commercial vessels, their cargoes, and crew. Efforts to address the small vessel environment have largely been limited to traditional safety and law enforcement concerns. Small vessels are, however, readily vulnerable to potential exploitation by terrorist, smugglers of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics, aliens, and other contraband, and other criminals. Small vessels have also been successfully employed overseas by terrorists to deliver Waterborne Improvised Explosive Devices.

1 The report, as well as additional information on small vessel security, is available on the DHS web site, www.dhs.gov/xprevprot/programs/gc_1199394950818.

05-01-2008, 03:37 PM
America the Resilient
Defying Terrorism and Mitigating Natural Disasters
By Stephen E. Flynn

From Foreign Affairs , March/April 2008

Thanks for posting this, Matt. Being subjected to the 21st century's volume of bi-partisaning whining and negativity gets old.

To paraphrase Senator Blutarski: "What the f*** happened to the America I used to know?
Where's the spirit?
Where's the guts, huh?
"Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble."