March 18, 2003
U.S. ups maritime security measures
The Department of Homeland Security has raised the national threat level from an Elevated to High risk of terrorist attack or Level Orange and has begun implementing increased protective measures under a comprehensive national plan: "Operation Liberty Shield."
Operation Liberty Shield has a strong maritime component.
The intelligence community believes that terrorists will attempt multiple attacks against U.S. and coalition targets worldwide in the event of a U.S -led military campaign against Saddam Hussein.
In recent months, there have been reports of suspicious activity in and around a number of potential targets, including ports and waterways.
The maritime component of Operation Libert Shield will see:
- More Patrols - Security has been increased at major U.S. ports and waterways with more Coast Guard patrols by aircraft, ships and boats.
- More Escorts of Passenger Ships - The Coast Guard has increased its escorts of ferries and cruise ships.
- More Sea Marshals - Every high interest vessel arriving or departing from American ports will have armed Coast Guard Sea Marshals onboard, closely watching the ship's crew and ensuring that it makes its port call safely. These merchant ships have cargoes, crewmember(s), or other characteristics that warrant closer examination.
- Selective Maritime Restrictions - The Coast Guard will enforce security zones in and around critical infrastructure sites in key ports. This information will be published and announced for those using U.S. waterways.