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Old 11-25-2007, 09:54 AM
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Angry Feds: Small boats pose big risk

Feds: Small boats pose big risk

Coast Guard calls for GPS, ID rules to keep track of boaters

BY KIMBERLY C. MOORE
FLORIDA TODAY ADVERTISEMENT


PORT CANAVERAL - On a crisp November day, the Disney cruise ship Wonder sat idling at the dock, its red smokestacks belching a stream of gray fumes just a few dozen yards from a nearly empty State Road 401.

Nearby, the Carnival cruise ship Sensation lumbered its way out to sea through a channel shared by recreational boaters.

It's also a port used by NASA to bring space shuttle solid rocket boosters to Kennedy Space Center.

The scene at the relatively sleepy Port Canaveral is one that Homeland Security officials say could be ripe for a terrorist attack by small vessels.

At the Small Vessel Security Summit this summer in Washington, D.C., Coast Guard officials recommended to lawmakers that all 17 million boat operators in the United States -- including tens of thousands in Brevard County -- should carry identification when they are on the water. They said it would help Homeland Security build a database of people found in restricted waters, such as some places within Port Canaveral and Mosquito Lagoon.

In addition, officials would like boats to come equipped with Global Positioning Systems so problem boaters could be tracked.

Some local sport and commercial fishermen said they don't mind carrying identification, but suggest that security officials are targeting folks who just want to do their jobs.

Officials' concern stems from an attack on the U.S.S. Cole in October 2000 in the port of Aden, Yemen.

Suicide terrorists used a rubber dinghy laden with explosives to blow a hole in the side of the $1 billion missile destroyer, killing 17 servicemen and women.

The incident also spotlighted the vulnerability of ships in ports.

In a recent talk, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he wants "to raisethe protection level with respect to small boats."

Brevard County has licensed more than 40,500 small boats, defined as vessels being less than 109 feet long.

More than half of those boats are between 16 and 26 feet long, larger than the dinghy used to attack the Cole.

Despite the attack seven years ago, the U.S. House of Representative's Homeland Security Committee does not have any pending or proposed legislation regarding small boats.

"We know the Coast Guard is still looking at the issue, and they'll be delivering a report by the end of the year," said a spokesperson for Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

"We'll take a strong oversight role and make sure their initiatives are developed properly with industry input."

'Quite vulnerable'

Rosalind Harvey, Port Canaveral's director of communications, said the port pays the state to patrol its waters, while the Brevard County Sheriff's Office monitors the docks to maintain security.

In addition, the Coast Guard has a heavy presence at the port.

"There are several layers of security at the port," Harvey said. "There's landside and waterside. Some you do see. Some you don't see."

Port Canaveral security regulations require boaters to stay:


25 feet away from all docks.


100 feet away from berthed ships.


200 feet away from berthed Navy vessels.

However, large ships and small boats share the same waterways as they come and go at the port.

Despite local port regulations, Florida's boating law administrator, Richard Moore, said the state's ports are "quite vulnerable" to terrorist bombings from small vessels.

"We don't have anything to counteract that," said Moore, who attended the June summit in Washington. "We need to be more aware of what's going on around us on the water. We need to know that if we see something out of the ordinary, we should report that."

Keeping watch

To help with that, the Coast Guard has set up America's Waterway Watch, which is similar to the Coast Watch program developed during World War II. It's a central clearinghouse of information about possible threats and a place where people can send information about suspicious activities.

"With more than 95,000 miles of shoreline, more than 290,000 square miles of water, and approximately 70 million recreational boaters in the United States, the Coast Guard and local first responders can not do the job alone," America's Waterway Watch Web site reads.

"The operatives who may be attempting to enter the United States via our waterfront areas do not wear a uniform or carry arms openly," according to the Web site. "They have chosen to attack us using unconventional warfare and we must be prepared to report events such as people entering our country illegally along the hundreds of miles of coastline, and people preparing to attack our critical infrastructure."

The Coast Guard cautions, though, that it is not trying to generate paranoia or encourage an informant society such as the one in Cuba.

Moore said a lot of preparation goes into a terrorist attack and that people should be on the lookout for events out of the ordinary, such as:


People boating a lot near ports, power plants, fuel depots and other important infrastructure.


People taking a lot of photographs near those facilities.


People drawing maps or sketches, or taking notes near those facilities.

Boaters dissent

For boaters, carrying identification is something most already do, but they balk at having to install a GPS unit.

Chris Poppel of Clermont and a few friends recently launched a fishing boat from Kelly Park on the Banana River. Poppel said he already carries identification with him. "If you fish at all, you do," he said.

Poppel doubts people will install a tracking system on their boats.

Dean Herdman works as a charter fishing boat captain. He recently took a client out into the Stick Marsh near Fellsmere.

"If it's only a matter of carrying ID, that's not a big deal," he said. "I've got nothing to hide."

Herdman said the government doesn't have anything to worry about with local commercial fishermen.

"They may be targeting the wrong folks -- someone who's making a living in the area -- and it doesn't make much sense to me," he said.

Boats in Brevard
Number of boats registered in Brevard county:
Less than 12 feet: 6,382
12 feet to 15 feet, 11 inches: 9,891
16 feet to 25 feet, 11 inches: 19,761
26 feet to 39 feet, 11 inches: 2,752
40 feet to 64 feet, 11 inches: 17
65 feet to 109 feet, 11 inches:0
Total:40,573*
*Includes kayaks, canoes and other various water vessels not included in list
-- State of Florida


What is suspicious?
Suspicious situations or activity includes:

Unattended vessels or vehicles in unusual locations

Lights flashing between boats

Unusual diving activity

Unusual number of people onboard

Unusual night operations

Recovering or tossing items into or onto the waterway or shoreline

Operating in or passing through an area that does not typically have such activity

Fishing/hunting in locations not typically used for those activities

Missing fencing or lighting near sensitive locations

Anchoring in an area not typically used for anchorage

Transfer of people or things between ships or between ship and shore outside of port

Anyone operating in an aggressive manner

Individuals establishing businesses or roadside food stands near sensitive locations

Small planes flying over critical locations

People attempting to buy or rent fishing or recreational vessels with cash for short-term, undefined use
To report suspicious activity, call America's Waterway Watch's national response center at 877-24WATCH.
For an imminent threat call 9-1-1 or the U.S. Coast Guard on Marine Channel 16.
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Old 11-25-2007, 09:59 AM
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http://forums.floridatoday.com/viewtopic.php?t=60224
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:02 AM
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They should just give us permission to open fire on a few vessels that don't adhere to the distance rules. Then you would see more people knowing the rules and regs. of boating. Too many Yo-Yo's out on the water that know (ZERO) about the waters they boat in.
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:02 AM
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I'm sorry but, THAT'S INSANE!
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:58 AM
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We had our Fun Run out of the Port Canaveral inlet in September. This is BS. Government employees trying to keep their jobs with peenis envy since they have nothing better to do than to pick on those who work HARD to have a nice boat.

This is the inlet.
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White Knuckles View Post
We had our Fun Run out of the Port Canaveral inlet in September. This is BS. Government employees trying to keep their jobs with peenis envy since they have nothing better to do than to pick on those who work HARD to have a nice boat.

This is the inlet.
And on the way back in on that run, we came upon a cruise ship and a CG vessel pointing is machine gun at me right at the inlet opening. I came off plane very quickly (duh) and he told me to stay put. But once the cruise ship cleared the inlet, they broke away and headed back. Didn't make much sense to me, but I'm not arguing with them at that time.

I didn't know about them "escorting" cruise ships out, but I am a fast learner.
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:23 PM
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Uh, Most boats already have GPS. GPS tells you where your boat is (really where the GPS is).......it simply receives...doesn't send any signal. Even if boats had some kind of transponder that told big brother where you were..........i'm sure anyone up to no good would disable it. Gimmie a break....
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McGary911 View Post
Even if boats had some kind of transponder that told big brother where you were..........i'm sure anyone up to no good would disable it. Gimmie a break....
Exactly.
How are you gonna force the terrorist to put in and register a GPS.
I don't currently have one, but when I get one is it gonna be required to register it, kinda like marine radios once were??
Would this be for all GPS units?? Handhelds??
Would it be illegal for me to take an unregistered GPS on my boat?
Insanity.
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:47 PM
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We have a very busy cruise ship activity here in Vancouver and so far no problem riding side by side in a safe distance of 500 feet when they leave port or arriving , but approaching them while at the dock , the police patrol is out of nowhere rather quickly to tell you to buzz off ,hehe . It's been like this since 911 .
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:56 PM
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Why dont they just keep watching us with their eyes?
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