Later this year, America will observe the 10th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks. The events of that day forever changed the way the Coast Guard conducts its missions and ushered in a new era of cooperation between law enforcement at all levels of government.
Last week, the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office joined the New York Police Department and police, fire and environmental protection officials from the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in an exercise aimed at protecting the island of Manhattan from a potential terrorist attack by water.
Over the course of five days, federal officials placed multiple mock weapons of mass destruction on volunteer recreational boats in an attempt to sneak one by five Coast Guard cutters acting as command platforms with each controlling as many as 12 small boats from different federal, state and local agencies to screen 100 percent of the vessels approaching Manhattan through multiple chokepoints.
“The leadership exercised by the five Coast Guard cutter patrol command platforms for this event was exceptional,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Batchelder, Sector New York‘s enforcement division chief and chair of the maritime subcommittee for the Securing the Cities exercise. “Every radiological source pretending to be a bad guy was successfully interdicted, indicating this port is at its highest state of readiness to deal with anyone planning a maritime terrorist attack.”
DHS began the Securing the Cities program in 2006 as a pilot project for the New York City region, providing equipment, tools and training through cooperative agreements to the NYPD, the lead agency for the STC program, which in turn distributes grant money to other participating agencies. In all, STC has provided more than 5,800 pieces of detection equipment, trained nearly 11,000 personnel, and conducted more than a hundred drills.