America’s security is everybody’s concern

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2005

One of my favorite stops either heading to or coming from my office is the Coast Guard Auxiliary information board located on the bottom floor of the Federal Building in Portsmouth. There is always tons of information on boating safety, rules of the road, new Virginia maritime requirements and product recalls.

I get about one-fourth of my column ideas from this location.

One pamphlet recently caught my eye. The more I read this tri-fold document, the more I saw the application to the entire maritime community, including recreational boaters. The pamphlet was titled &uot;Security Measures For Vessels, Docks and Facilities.&uot;

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The stated purpose for the pamphlet was to, &uot;help the fishing community develop procedures for ensuring the security of their boats, their crews, and their communities.&uot;

It was created by the Coast Guard, in cooperation with the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Advisory Committee (CFIVAC).&uot;

The panel that I found especially interesting was titled, &uot;Suspicious Activities To Watch For.&uot;

The team that created this pamphlet did a wonderful job in providing some excellent recommendations on how not only the fishing industry, but everyone on the water can play a part in our nation’s homeland security.

Here are some of the items or activities that the pamphlet recommended that should be watched for and reported to the Coast Guard.

a. Unusual activity on a vessel.

Unknown person photographing facilities.

Suspicious vendors attempting to sell merchandise, establishing businesses or roadside food stands wither adjacent or in the proximity of facilities.

Vehicles or small boats with personnel; in them loitering and perhaps taking photographs or creating diagrams of facilities.

Suspicious general aviation aircraft operating in the proximity to facilities.

Unknown persons attempting to gain information about facilities by walking up to personnel or their families and engaging them in a conversation.

Unknown or suspicious workmen trying to gain access to facilities to repair, replace, service or install equipment.

It is important to have local Coast Guard contact information with you before you get under way along with local police and fire. This makes up a normal part of a communications plan. You really never know what you might see during a simple recreational cruise, even if it is just along the Nansemond, the James or the

York rivers.

As a nation we most always think about homeland security, even when involved in recreation activities such as boating.

I don’t mean that we should develop a paranoia like Fox Mulder displayed on the TV’s &uot;The X-Files,&uot; that everyone is out to get us, but keeping simple concerns in your mind is important for our collective security.

Security on our waterways is especially important when you consider that 90 percent of the world’s goods are transported by water during some part of their journey from manufacturer to consumer throughout the world.

The ideas I provided above are a few examples how you can help law enforcement agencies, especially the Coast Guard, with information. Additional eyes and ears on the water are what military commentators call a &uot;force multiplier&uot; agencies like the Coast Guard can’t be everywhere. An informed maritime community, reporting suspicious activities, is one way that all can work together toward a more secure today and tomorrow.

Until next week … Boat Safe … and Boat Smart!

Joe DiRenzo is Coast Guard employee who lives in Suffolk. He can be reached at