U.S. Coast Guard Keeps Watch in New York
Sailors serve as the last line of defense along the region's waterways
Let’s face it, the U.S. Coast Guard is the most underappreciated of the armed services. But don’t forget the branch is responsible for search and rescue missions, inspecting ships for environmental violations and keeping a lookout for terrorists.
We recently took a ride with the Coast Guard patrolling the waters around New York City. It’s one of the busiest passenger waterways in the United States — with millions of ferry passengers traveling it every year — and home to the third busiest port in the country.
“The role of the Coast Guard in New York is to add that level of security for the protection of the harbors, ports, waterways, all the water side facilities, everything that is controlled here in New York in the maritime environment,” Petty Officer Jesus Francisco Vasquez said.
Less than a year before the Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center, the terrorist group blew up a fiberglass boat next to the destroyer USS Cole, disabling the vessel off Yemen and killing 17 Americans. Back home, packed passenger ferries make for soft targets.
Which is partly why the Coast Guard’s patrol boats — armed with M-240 medium machine guns — stay close to the ferries, just in case. There’s no doubt the sailors are willing to use them.