Governor observes anti-terrorism efforts of state marine patrol
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Gov. Gray Davis, who ordered the state’s marine patrol to protect California’s lucrative ports from possible terrorist attacks, boarded a Coast Guard cutter Thursday to observe anti-terrorism efforts.
As the cutter whipped around the bay, with Davis at the helm at one point, Coast Guard personnel explained policing efforts. Among the measures, cargo ships now must give 96-hour notice of when they’ll arrive.
”Obviously, we’re concerned about a major vessel hitting a bridge, having explosives,” Davis said. ”That’s why the 96-hour rule is so important.”
A boat running into one of the bridges crisscrossing the Bay could destroy it, forcing commuters and market-bound trucks into time-consuming detours.
”The bridges were built to withstand an original cargo ship ramming them, but because cargo ships are so much bigger now, the Coast Guard needs to be here,” Davis said.
Clad in an orange Coast Guard jacket, Davis praised the cooperation of local governments with the Coast Guard and state agencies, and emphasized economic importance of keeping ports open.
”If you have prior authorization, we are open for business,” he said. ”If you don’t have prior authorization, we’re as secure as Fort Knox.”
The Fish and Game department’s marine patrol, which covers 25,000 square miles of ocean, will continue its patrols of marine protected areas and commercial fishing boats. It also will help the Coast Guard look for suspicious behavior, will shuttle Coast Guard officers to suspicious boats and now will patrol at night.
Additionally, marine patrols are screening and boarding twice as many freighters and pleasure boats in the days since the attacks.
One of the Fish and Game’s boats will patrol the Southern California coast and one will patrol Northern California.
”We’re trying to keep these waterways open,” said Fish and Game spokeswoman Chamois Andersen.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Coast Guard has stepped up its watch. It even created sea marshals – personnel who are equipped with small firearms and who put small and large vessels through their paces as the pass under the Golden Gate Bridge.
”I’m very impressed,” Davis said. ”I don’t think you could get through this maze of security apparatus. You’d have to be Houdini.”
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It’s time to secure outdoor loose furniture, decorations and garbage cans because high winds are aimed at Lake Tahoe for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.